CHENNAI: A young Poongkodi, widowed only 15 days ago, was set to perform her husband Suresh’s 16th day kariyam, a tradition marking the end of the mourning period, on Sunday, with her two young boys. It was then that the government agencies informed her that her home at Konnur High Road was to be brought down on the same day.
“Her husband died of heart attack 15 days ago. We pleaded with the authorities to give her just a day’s time to perform the ritual. They refused downright,” said her neighbour Kalavathi R. “We left her crying, wearing her colourful saree and flowers (as part of the ritual ) in the middle of the road.”
On Sunday, government authorities including the city Corporation, Public Works Department and Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board began the eviction of 315 families from the KH Road slum in Nammalvarpet.
However, said activists, it was in contravention of the Madras High Court order based on a writ petition filed by Pennurimai Iyakkam.
Said R Geetha , social activist and founder of Unorganised Workers Federation, “The order clearly states that the residents will be given time to move out on their own accord until June 10. Before the deadline, forceful evictions are taking place.”
The order passed on May 15 stated, “The encroachers, namely, 315 families are directed to move out from the present place on or before 10-6-2016, failing which it is open for the fourth respondent/TNSCB and the second respondent/ Chennai City Municipal Corporation to allot an alternative place to some other eligible persons based on the ‘seniority’ in the ‘list’ maintained by them, of course by way of identification.”
On further protest against the evictions, around 10 residents and activists including Geetha were detained and let off later in the day. The evictions were part of the second half of the Corporation’s drive in the area. During the first part, 140 families along 350 metres of the 910-metre-long Konnur High Road were evicted.
Said a senior Corporation official, “These families are those affected by floods. The order was to remove them before June 10.”The families are to be resettled to Perumbakkam, he added.