Slum dwellers protest eviction to outskirts
Slum dwellers in and around the city converged at the Evening Bazaar Road, near the Central Railway Station, on Saturday to protest the large-scale eviction of the poor to its outskirts and the government’s proposal to construct tenements for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) at Perumbakkam.
As many as 15 apolitical organisations under the aegis of the ‘Right to City Movement’ took part in the protest; this also included students from institutions, such as Madras School of Social Work, IIT-Madras and DG Vaishnav College.
A Narayanan of the Right to City Movement said that he eviction would have repercussions. “The middle-class and the poor share a relationship; the poor too have the right to reside within city limits. Proposals to confine them to the city’s outskirts smack of bias.” He pointed out that similar efforts in the past in Kannagi Nagar and Chemmenchery, have resulted in social and infrastructural flaws. He also questioned the feasibility of the Perubakkam project, citing cost overruns.
Nithya, member of Transparent Chennai Research Group of IFMR, said similar proposals haven’t exactly proved successful across the globe. “This will lead to an unwanted social stratification. After all, UNESCO has declared Right to City as inalienable.” She added that the Centre had granted funds under the JNNURM scheme to construct tenements for the poor only inside city limits. Protestors bitterly criticised politicians. One such speaker, Venkatesan, said: “I have been a political worker and campaigned for all parties over three decades. I live in a place that is devoid of basic facilities. All I ask for is basic amenities.”