Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin described the Vengavayal incident as reprehensible and disgraceful. Speaking in the Assembly on Wednesday, January 11, Stalin highlighted the action taken in the incident where human excreta was dumped in an overhead tank that serves drinking water to the Dalits in the village in Pudukottai district. “An incident in Pudukottai district's Vengavayal village has revealed that untouchability based on caste discrimination is present here and there. This incident is truly regrettable, reprehensible, and disgraceful,” he said.
“I directed the concerned officials to take action right after I received the information on this issue. I wanted to make sure the villagers receive medical treatment and safe drinking water without any disruption. Based on my directions, the Pudukottai district collector and Superintendent of Police (SP) inspected the village, and officials are taking necessary measures,” he added. Stalin said a special investigation team was formed under the SP, and police had questioned around 70 people in the village and the culprits would be arrested soon.
Stalin also said that a medical camp had been set up in the village from December 12, 2022. Public health work has been carried out by a medical team consisting of one medical officer, three nurses, two hospital staff, three health inspectors, and ten workers. “With the help of the local panchayat, the water tank and the connection pipes have been sterilised and water samples have been collected and given for the tests at Aranthangi Public Health Laboratory. The test results showed the water that is being fetched from the tank after disinfection is safe for drinking,” he said.
Pipe connections to the 32 houses were renewed on January 5 and water distribution to the Dalit households is being carried out in the presence of a medical inspector. A new tank is also under construction. The government also formed a Social Justice Committee comprising Prof Swaminathan, Prof R Rajendran, K Karunanidhi, and Dr Shanthi Ravindranath to investigate the matter. The team will visit the village on January 13.
The issue came to light after five Dalit children of Vengavayal village in Tamil Nadu’s Pudukkottai district fell ill and were hospitalised on December 24, the villagers inspected their common water tank. To their great shock, they discovered that the drinking water source of the Dalit families had been contaminated with human excreta. Doctors treating the children alerted the villagers to possible contamination of the water. The tank was cleaned with bleach on December 26, and pipe connections to the houses were replaced two weeks later.