Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday met the families of the 17 people who died after a 20-foot-high compound wall fell due to heavy rain on three houses in Nadur village in Coimbatore the previous day, PTI reported. The chief minister’s visit came a day after protesting locals alleged that the wall was built to keep away Dalits in the locality.
Palaniswami promised additional compensation of Rs 6 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. This is in addition to the Rs 4 lakh from the Disaster Relief Fund announced on Monday. The chief minister, who visited the families along with his deputy O Panneerselvam and local officials, said that jobs will be provided to the next of kin of those killed.
The house, whose wall had collapsed, belongs to a textile trader identified as Sivasubramaniam. He was arrested on Tuesday over charges of causing death by negligence, police said.
The chief minister promised to take action against the accused based on the investigation. Residents who had protested on Monday had demanded the registration of a case under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act against Sivasubramaniam.
The chief minister observed that other houses in the neighbourhood had tiled roofs that were also not safe. Palaniswami said that concrete houses will be built in their place. He said that his administration had already planned to make the state free of slums and build concrete homes for those residing in low-lying areas.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin also visited the families on Tuesday, and criticised district authorities for not taking action despite complaints. Palaniswami responded to Stalin’s charges, saying that the wall had collapsed due to heavy rain so there was no question of the government’s involvement in it.
Protestors, including the relatives of the victims, had gathered outside a hospital in Coimbatore on Monday, and had accused the district administration of not heeding their pleas to demolish the wall. The police arrested at least 25 protestors on Monday, and a further 80 on Tuesday for demanding their release, officials said.
Stalin on Tuesday condemned the police action against the protestors at the hospital and sought action against those responsible.