CHENNAI: Demolition of the Chennai Silks building in T Nagar, that has been going on for over nine days now, has taken a heavy toll on the lives of residents. From layers of fine dust that have coated the interiors of several houses in proximity to the building to respiratory problems, residents have even had to temporarily shift out of their homes.
Viswanathan N, a 77-year-old resident of Singarasubramaniam Street who also has a history of respiratory issues, is one of the many scapegoats of T Nagar’s mad rush towards commercialisation.
“Smoke and dust have aggravated his wheezing, and he has been at a private hospital in Vadapalani for over a week now,” said his daughter.
She added that though he has now been discharged and temporarily shifted to Adyar, he is still not on his feet. “He is on nebuliser support three times a day even now. For the owner of the building, the losses are just materialistic. But for the rest of us who live there, it has proven to be costlier than that.”
Several truckloads of debris were brought to the site to form a ramp for the jaw-cutters. Initially, authorities had said that the process of demolition would be completed in about three days. But it has stretched to over nine days, still showing no signs of drawing to a close.
V Jayshree, who resides opposite the fire-ravaged building, said that her neighbours have been suffering from severe throat infection and cough for the past week. “We clean our homes at least five to six times a day, but the dust still manages to settle almost everywhere,” said Raman, a resident of Venkatesan Street.
Apart from health issues, residents also said that the prolonged demolition had crippled their day-to-day routine.
“Since my daughter’s school bus can no longer come to our street, they drop her off near Dhadapani Street, from where she comes walking,” said Raman.
Although the Greater Chennai Corporation has set up health camps, residents said that they left much to be desired.
Said Rangan V, “My wife had asked for a mask a few days ago at the health camp. They told us it was only for those who are working at the site.”
He added that if the authorities had really been intent on ensuring the safety of residents, they would have distributed masks and carried out a door-to-door check to ascertain if elders and children were encountering medical problems.
After day’s pause, demolition work to start from Monday
The demolition of Chennai Silks which was paused on Sunday will resume on Monday morning. “The workers had been working for nearly two weeks without a break, so we just decided to give them a holiday on Sunday,” said Peer Mohammed, the private contractor engaged in demolition.
The work was also resumed to prevent panic among workers that followed the death of a young worker on Saturday.
“Work will start by (Monday) morning,” the contractor said, adding that the demolition is set to be completed by Wednesday.