CHENNAI:The seaside settlement Domming Kuppam along the Marina Beach was a buzz of activity on Tuesday with vans loading in people and furniture and officials checking documents. The fresh round of resettlement will see 668 families move to tenements at Thoraipakkam.
Around 30 families were moved on Monday and about 30 more on Tuesday, and the officials are hoping to move the maximum numbers before the start of the new academic year. “We’re not forcing anyone, we are only taking those prepared to move,” says P Ilangovan, superintending engineer, Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB).
The city Corporation is helping the resettlement process, providing food for three days to people in their new homes at Thoriapakkam. “We have tried to counsel them and make them understand. We do not want to disturb the children’s academics,” says an official supervising the relocation.
“In the new houses, they will have water supply and electricity and bus facilities,” Ilangovan says, adding that the area will have an Integrated Child Development Centre(ICDS) and a primary school, with a high school at Kannagi Nagar.
There has been no segregation of fisherfolk and others in the eviction, and the houses have been allotted based on the collector’s list prepared after the 2004 tsunami.
Meanwhile, the residents have mixed opinions. While most of the old-timers are staunchly resisting the move, some of the residents feel this is the only option. “Many of the people have taken multiple houses. We too want houses. Some of them even sell the houses and move back here and set up huts, and take one house for every son. Now, even I want my share,” says one angry fisherwoman who does not want to be named.
But an older woman with her, Mary, is firm that she would not want to budge. “Why will we want to leave the sea breeze? Some of the young people who have already changed their livelihood may be ready to move. This is our ancestry.” Although the officials say there is no force being exerted, some of the women display the token indicating their allocation. “We are in fear that our huts can be torn down any time. We will move only if we get an alternative right here.”