From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Date 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
Attribution Dalit Bahujan Shramik Union & Peoples Action for Rural Awakening
Location Andhra Pradesh, South India
Sources Related articles on the web
Manuscripts Documents by Mr.N.Paul Diwakar, Fr.T.D.John and Annie Namala
Audience Tsunami-affected Dalits and Tribals
Theme Discrimination in relief

Punarnirmaan is one of the response programmes of Dalit Bahujan Shramik Union and Peoples Action for Rural Awakening to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake-affected people of the districts of Nellore, Prakasam, Krishna, and East Godavari in the state of Andhra Pradesh, South India.

Activities through this programme consist mainly of livelihood restoration and construction of shelters

While there is no debate on the great loss, destruction and death that has taken toll of the fisher community, there is every indication that loss suffered by other vulnerable and poor will be neglected and overlooked. The official line was that death and devastation of Dalits, Muslims etc. is not severe and should not distract or disturb the relief process at large. While agreeing to this, one also realizes that any family that has been affected similarly – there has been deaths, loss of livelihood (be it fishing boat, salt pan, livestock or inundation of farm land), homes have been simply washed away or totally destroyed, all personal property like cooking utensils, clothes, any money, has been lost, all documents like patta, ration cards, education certificates have been lost. Thus the loss and devastation of all affected families is similar in nature, and all of them need support to re-build and re-construct their lives. If the government does not take this into account this would lead to new social tensions and polarization. For example, in Nidammarru village in Kruthivennu mandal in Krishna district, the Dalits protested the distribution of relief materials only to fisher workers and after four days when the administration continued to so, they prevented the distribution of further relief materials even to the fishing communities till the Panchayat agreed to extend the relief to them too.

It was also seen that in many cases in Tamil Nadu, Dalits were not able to go into common relief camps fearing caste discrimination in common staying, dining, use of water and cooked food, teasing of young girls etc. and preferred to stay by themselves. The fisher communities are higher in the caste hierarchy and practice untouchability and discrimination to Dalit communities. They prevented relief volunteers and materials from being distributed among Dalits, prohibited them from putting up temporary thatches in common land when they returned from the camps.


Fr.Thomas Pallithanam, the past Organising Secretary of Dalit Bahujan Shramik Union and Director of Peoples Action for Rural Awakening, the implementors of this programme. nota bene - The word Imprimatur needs to be construed in a broader term - that of indication of approval by whatever authority.


The immediate apparent damage was to the fisher folk. Being the morrow of Christmas and Sunday, most of the people directly affected were tourists or pilgrims. Being the morning after the full moon, there were also a lot of devout Hindus fulfilling their religious rituals. At any rate, the number of deaths in Andhra Pradesh were only 168, compared to the enormous numbers in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

It must be acknowledged at this stage that the response of the Indian Government was immediate and generous. The Government moved in swiftly into the affected areas. They were equally quick in reaching out to our neighbours: Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia. Whatever might have been the complaints of discrimination at the local level, the response of the Government of India was most praise worthy.

At the same time, being with the dalits, a number of things that guided the team in discerning the style of their involvement. The general response to reach out to those affected followed a common pattern. The trend was to rush to areas highlighted by the media. There too the effort was to involve those directly affected, viz. the fisher community. There was logic in it which we cannot deny. The government, in their unexpected bounty, reached out to all the people in the affected areas. This was a good thing because no needy person was left out. This was okay with regard to the immediate food aid. But when it came to the assessment of loss incurred it became clear that there was very distinct discrimination, either conscious or because the officials concerned had got accustomed to this way of dealing with situations and people. In effect there were the highly visible victims such as those in the fishing business who might have made huge losses. The fishing castes, whether they were the Agnikuka Kshatriyas or the Vadabalijis, were generally included. Then there were the invisible victims of the Tsunami, who in turn were now the visible victims of discrimination, visible for those who chose to see the situation.

Invisible victims of the tsunami[edit]

  • With the fishermen who own boats, there are dalits who join as helpers. They do not own the boats or nets but whose livelihood depends on joining in the fishing along with the others. They were left out in the general assessement of those who are affected.
  • There are dalits who depend on the fishing because they buy the fish and do the marketing of fish. They gather fish, dry them and sell them later in the market. They became out of work and hence without their livelihood. Their little stocks of dry fish got destroyed.
  • There are the Yanadis, recognized by the Government as a Scheduled Tribe, and whose conditions are often worse than most dalit communities. They go fishing near the shore only with little nets. They dive to get shells. The flesh they sell to the bigger business people and the shell they use for making lime. Their houses have been inundated and their entire livelihoods have been disturbed.
  • There are also dalits who either go shell collecting or buy shells and make lime which is used for a variety of purposes. This lime is also an eco-friendly substitute for cement. Their kilns have been affected and their stocks disturbed or lost.
  • There are the salt pans run by dalits in groups. Water has entered the salt pans. In Prakasam and Nellore District some lost their lives when the tsunami waves come in. Many were saved because they had not gone for work, 26th being a Sunday. The salt pans have become sandy and need to be re-made. This is a very costly business.
  • There are the coastal agricultural labourers and very small farmers, all dalits who have received land from the government. Their lands have been inundated with sea water and are uncultivable. It is very costly to remove the saline filled layer.


Immediate Relief work in the following areas:

  • Nellore district
  • Prakasam district
  • Krishna district
  • East Godavari district

Livelihood restoration[edit]

in Nellore district[edit]

  • Fishnets: Fishnets suited for fishing in the creeks were provided to Yanadis here.
  • Catamarans
  • Cycle Rickshaws

Region specific[edit]

Prakasam district[edit]

  • Salt pans

Building up confidence immediately after the Tsunami was necessary. Salt pans in Binginapalli-Ollapalem in Singayarakonda Mandal of Prakasam district belonging to the Dalits were affected. A huge layer of silt was brought-in by the waves of the Tsunami. Clearing it up and restoring the salt pans was one of the tasks at hand.

Salt panners clearing their affected salt pans. A major initiative to desilt the salt pans was undertaken through a food for work programme in Prakasam district

Krishna district[edit]

  • Bullock Carts
  • Shelter: It was proposed to construct more than 600 houses in the four districts in partnership with the Government agencies.
    • in Nellore district
    • in Prakasam district
A housing case study in progress in Kakikaluru in Krishna district. From right, Mr.Y.L.Jayaraj, Consultant-ATMA [1], PCMindia.htm, Mr.P.J.Job, Programme Coordinator, and Mr.Raja Babu, the local politician.


  • Christian Aid[2], London, Great Britain - Christian Aid is an agency of the churches in the UK and Ireland. It works wherever the need is greatest – irrespective of religion or race. The essential purpose of Christian Aid is to expose the scandal of poverty, to help in practical ways to root it out from the world, and to challenge and change the systems which favour the rich and powerful over the poor and marginalised.
  • Diakonie Emergency Aid [3], Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany - Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe provides humanitarian aid worldwide. It supports people who have fallen victim of natural disasters, war and displacement and who are not able to cope on their own in the emergency situation they find themselves in. It is an effort to help people in great need – worldwide, regardless of their colour, religion and nationality.
  • Stichting Liliane Fonds [4], 's-Hertogenbosch, North Brabant, The Netherlands - Integration and self-acceptance - those are the main goals of SLF. It is a development organisation which supports children and young people with disabilities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It operates through 1700 local people in 80 countries, called mediators, who all represent NGOs or religious organisations.
Coat of Arms of Dornbirn
  • Town Council of Dornbirn[5], Vorarlberg, Austria - Dornbirn is the largest town in Vorarlberg yet with only 44700 inhabitants is still relatively small. The Emperor Franz Josef first granted Dornbirn the status of a city in 1901.

A working team drawn out of the constituents of dappu met soon after the Tsunami of 2004 to chalk out of strategy under the guidance of Fr.T.D.John.

The grassroot implementing team is directed by Fr.Thomas Pallithanam through Mr.P.J.Job, the Programme Coordinator. Each district has an Area Coordinator who oversees the programmes through an Office Manager and Programme Managers.

See also[edit]



Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Further reading

External links[edit]