CHENNAI: The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) on Thursday came out with a report slamming the government for the inhuman conditions existing in Kannagi Nagar and Semmenchery slum resettlement colonies. The report observed rampant human rights violations in these areas and policy anomalies and called on the government to stop works for the upcoming resettlement project in Perumbakkam designed on the lines of Kannagi Nagar.
While the government’s National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy of 2007 states that displaced people will be entitled to “a house of minimum 538 sq ft carpet area in urban areas”, the average area of houses in these two colonies were observed to be just 160 sq ft, a policy violation. “The policy also calls for comprehensive infrastructure to be provided. But here, basic amenities like water connections and electricity are not provided to many houses,” said V Suresh, president of PUCL-TN who was a part of the fact-finding committee.
Semmenchery and Kannagi Nagar together hold a population of one lakh people and are touted as the largest slum rehabilitation project in Asia. But, according to the report, even basic amenities are lacking in both the settlements. There are no primary health centers in Kannagi Nagar, and only one in Semmenchery for the entire population. “The Integrated Child Development Service in these colonies lack proper infrastructure and function out of one of the tenement flats,” says A Narayanan, a member of the committee. The report also notes that the allotment order provided by the TN slum clearance board does not ensure security of land as sale deed can be availed of only after 20 years of allotment.
“Gross human rights violations are occurring in these colonies as there is no space to bury the dead. They exhume old bodies and bury new ones in the same spot. Crime rates have reportedly shot up,” said Suresh.
“The 2001 census had pointed out that 90 percent of slum dwellers in the city were Dalits. Hence the move to relocate one-lakh slum dwellers has only resulted in isolation of one section of society, predominantly Dalits, from mainstream society,” said Narayanan.