CHENNAI : In response to an activist’s query as to why Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) had not carried out Social Impact Assessments (SIA) before evicting informal settlements, the board, in its response has stated that ‘the furnishing of information by the slum families’ in Form 2 is part of SIA study’.
Activists term this a brazen reply since Form 2 merely collects details such as family card numbers and the age of family members. The response was submitted by TNSCB to National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) after an activist and policy researcher Vanessa Peter petitioned the NCSC to look into human rights violations of the deprived urban communities during evictions.
However, even as the slum clearance board said that Form 2 was part of SIA, the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT), in a separate response to the complaint submitted to NCSC, pointed out that `48 lakh had been sanctioned to slum clearance board for conducting impact assessment studies.
Form 2, through 25 questions, collects details of door numbers, addresses of the settlements, Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPIC), family card and other such mandatory requirements.
However, done in consultation with the community concerned, an ideal resettlement plan not only looks at the policy framework, but also assesses the magnitude of impacts of the move. It also involves surveys of the informal dwellers to enumerate details such as social stratification, percentage of women-headed families and the monthly income of families.
The response was for the question on why TNSCB had not conducted SIAs for the 28 settlements that were evicted under the same project but had conducted a detailed SIA (as mandated under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 - LARR Act for only two settlements- on Pallavan salai and at Navalur Nedunchezhian Nagar.
“Filling Form 2 cannot be equated to the process of conducting SIA as mandated by the LARR Act. The act of comparing Form 2 with that of SIA is a deliberate attempt to deceive the authorities and belittling the law,” said Vanessa Peter of Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC)When contacted, a senior slum clearance board official said that while Form 2 gives out general information about the people, the board did not intend to equate it with the social impact assessments that is carried out through consultants. “That such a comparison was made has not come to my knowledge. If it comes to my knowledge, necessary action will be taken,” the official said.
In response to a query, the TNSCB had stated that ‘the furnishing of information by the slum families’ in Form 2 is part of Social Impact Assessment (SIA) study’.
Form 2 only has details such as door numbers, addresses, family card details etc
A TNSCB official says necessary action will be taken if wrong information has been given