A news story in July 2013 described how a Paliyan man had used Facebook as a way of complaining about problems in his colony, and how government officials had quickly responded. A brief report last week provides an update on the situation.

Western Ghats Mountains where the Paliyans live

V. Thangaraj, at the Alagammalpuram Colony near Madurai, a city in Tamil Nadu, India, asked on Facebook if the District Collector, Anshul Mishra, could help provide basic amenities such as housing, which had not been adequately supplied by the state. Houses provided earlier by the government were deteriorating. The 2013 story reported that 17 of the houses in the colony were dilapidated.

The report last week indicated that Mr. Thangaraj, who completed his 10th year of formal education, was indeed responsible for prompting action. Unfortunately, Mr. Mishra, who quickly assured the Paliyans that he would take action, was transferred before he could do anything to improve the situation. Another collector, U. Sagayam, visited the colony and promised that new houses would be built, but he too was transferred.

The state has now come through and built 10 new houses in the colony, buildings that, Thangaraj said, represent a significant improvement for the people. One elderly Paliyan resident in the colony, S. Vellaichamy, expressed his particular pleasure. One rainy night in 2012, he could tell that the ceiling of his house was starting to cave in. He alerted his family but he was injured on the head while he was saving his granddaughter from the structure as it collapsed.

Thanaraj, a tribal rights activist who also played an active role in urging the district authorities to provide decent housing for the colony, praised the district government for its action.