CHENNAI: With schools reopening on Monday, flood victims who have been staying in schools across the city are seeking alternative housing arrangements from the authorities.
“We will not leave, till our houses are rebuilt. They cannot force us to vacate,” said an agitated Arul Selvan, a resident of Aathma Nagar at Saidapet, who along with over 1,000 families, was currently residing at the Government Model Higher Secondary School in the same locality. “We have lost everything, where will we go now? Let them first make alternative arrangement to accommodate all of us, then we’ll leave,” he said.
On Sunday morning, a few Corporation officials, along with the police, had come and informed the flood victims to move to their own homes. Their announcement enraged the crowd, who instantly mobbed the officials.
Flood victims from Thideer Nagar too joined in. “When we questioned them, they told us that by living in the schools we will be ruining children’s education and future. What about our future? And our children, who have nothing to take to school, and no place to return to,” said J Murugan, a flood victim.
“When we went to speak to the officials, a police officer came close to thrashing me. He was shooing us away, like stray animals,” said Sukanya, a transgender, who lost her grandmother a week ago in the rains.
“I know I can survive, but how? We transgenders are already treated as vermin. Will anyone accommodate us in their houses, or in their lands,” questioned Sukanya, controlling her tears. Only six families, who live in brick houses, have moved to their homes at Aathma Nagar, while the rest of the 900-plus were still looking for a roof. “There is no power or water here, but I think we can manage somehow,” said Sethupathi, a flood victim. For Perumal, it is going to get tough. “I am worried about my family, my three
children. We cannot live there for long. It will take a lot of time to rebuild our homes from scratch. Everything is gone,” he said.
The refusal to move out and the tussle that followed did not, however, go in vain. Officials finally agreed to let victims reside inside the premises. “We have asked the school authorities in these two areas to run the classes in one portion and accommodate the others in the rest. We have provided electricity in a few parts of the slums today and will complete it by tomorrow. For the ones living inside the schools, we will continue providing them with all the basic needs,” said a Corporation official.