Every year, when the rains arrive, people of Kamandalapuram have haunting memories of the incident of 15 years ago when a body went missing in the downpour. From then on, dignity in death has always been denied, all due to the lack of a bridge over Kamandalanadhi river and absence of a burial ground in the village in Arani.
A recent picture from Kamandalapuram showed seven men wading through neck-deep water carrying a corpse on the shoulder while crossing a river in spate. Four men are seen following behind them to bury a deceased 80-year-old man, with the rains pounding Arani for the third consecutive day. The ordeal of people in Kamandalapuram of Arani town in Tiruvannamalai district does not end with this disturbing picture. Every time they bury their dead, they remain unsure of seeing the body again since a spate in the river also ends up dragging the body into the water.
Kamandalapuram village, located on the foothills of Javadhu hills, does not have a burial ground nor a bridge to connect to the nearest burial ground. Amul Raj, a resident of Kamandalapuram says, â€śAn old man of the village, Sadhu, died due to age-related illness. So we had to cross the river to bury the body in the porombokke land on the other side since we do not have a burial ground. We have been asking officials to create a burial ground or a bridge but both the demands have not been met yet.â€ť
This year, Kamandalanadhi river is in spate again since water was released from Shenpagathoppu dam. â€śThe dam reached full capacity last week and could not hold water during the recent rains, so the water was released. The river is usually used as a pathway to reach the burial ground or the neighbouring village since we do not have a bridge. However, with the river in spate, we had to wade through the water carrying the body,â€ť says Amul Raj, who is a relative of the deceased person.
The residents have been putting forth demands to government authorities and block development officers (BDO) for the past 15 years. However, Amul Raj says, â€śNow, we are just continuously blaming our fate for this situation. The residents almost got used to this but the children get scared to cross the pathway especially to reach their schools and pregnant women are forced to take long routes to reach the hospital during an emergency.â€ť
Amul Raj on behalf of the villagers, has requested the government to look into the issue and build a bridge and burial ground for the public to avoid untoward incidents. He has also urged the government to set up a Public Health Centre (PHC) in Kamandalapuram since pregnant women are forced to travel nearly 20 kilometres to reach Arani Government Hospital or perform risky deliveries at home in case of emergency.