CHENNAI: With half-yearly exams scheduled to begin on Thursday, children of 370 families in Apparao garden, Aminjikarai are to be resettled in Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) tenements at Perumbakkam, 26 kilometres away, the same day.
Said Sangamitra K, mother of Sebastian and Sagariya, “Both my children have exams tomorrow when the evictions are also set to happen. We need to pack everything now and there’s no way they can study.”
Activists said while officials are busy in causing ‘minimal disruption’ on the day of the exams, they forget that taking the exams was a culmination of a process that lasts several months- preparation and revision.”
It is not about writing the exams on a particular day. How would the children be able to prepare in conditions such as these- after the trauma of seeing their houses being brought down,” said M. Andrew Sesuraj, State convener, Tamil Nadu Child Rights Observatory (TNCRO). This may lead to children from evicted families falling far behind their classmates who take the exams under regular circumstances.
According to Vanessa Peter, a policy researcher from The Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC), the children were paying the price for administrative shortcomings.
“From September 2017, 12 settlements have been removed within a time frame of three months (September to November) when they had a 10-month gap to follow the due processes like preparation of Social Impact Assessments to identify adverse impact of evictions and resettlement action plans to mitigate the adverse impact of these relocations,” she said.
“They have violated the laws of the land and previous court orders that clearly state that the authorities are at liberty to remove encroachments only after due process of law,” she added.
A senior corporation official said that instructions have been issued to make sure that students who have to write examinations are not disrupted.
“There are five students in Class 11 and one in Class 12. These houses will not be evicted tomorrow,” he said, as far as higher secondary students were concerned.
Who pays the price?
Policy researcher Vanessa Peter said that children are paying price for administrative shortcomings