Locals' lives still buried under debris
CHENNAI: Life in the neighbourhoods of Rajaraja Nagar and Thangaraja Nagar have been altered in the last two years after the collapse of the 11-storied building that snuffed out the lives of 61 workers.
As candles flickered at the closed entrance of the surviving partially constructed 11-storied building in Moulivakkam, marking the second anniversary of Chennai’s worst crash, residents consider the building as eyesore.
“Why is it still there? I can’t access my home, as it has been considered unsafe because of fears that the building will collapse on it,” rues Mary, who bought a house for `52 lakh and gifted it to her son-in-law.
“I invested everything I had. We lived here for two years when the tragedy happened. Luckily, we had all gone out shopping on that day,” recalls Mary.
Now, her son-in-law has lost his job and the family is struggling to make ends meet. “We are now living in a rented house. We have defaulted on the loan which we took for the house. The banks have been heartless and they are planning to auction our house. It looks like we won’t be able to own the house, even after losing my entire life savings,” says Mary.
Mary and her neighbours still cannot enter their houses as they have been barricaded by policemen. “We are considered outsiders in our own homes,” laments Abdul Khader, who had bought a house in the area in the year 2000. He renovated his house in 2012 and rented it out, before moving to another rented apartment in Mandaveli. “I was getting `7,000 as rent. This money was used to pay my rent as well. For the past two years, I have not been getting any rent. As a result, my financial burden is adding up,” he says.
It’s not only the adults who are hit. Even children studying in a government school next to the crash site are missing school. “We have been given admission in the nearby government school, where there is not enough space,” complains a student.
The burden is so high in fact, that there is a shift system in the school. For students studying in classes 1 to 5, the school timing is 9 to 1 pm, while for students above class 5, it is 2 pm to 5 pm.
Meanwhile, the flat owners feel they have been neglected in the whole process. “Nobody is talking about us,” says Ratna Mishra, who had bought a flat in the ill-fated building that collapsed. “The issue is that conditional approval was given by CMDA for a building which can’t take the weight beyond four floors, but isn’t it the body which gave the conditional approval in the first place?” she asks.