CHENNAI: It has been 13 years since the State government relocated around 4,000 families along the banks of Porur lake to a disputed land, promising each family one cent. However, the families have neither received pattas nor have access to basic amenities, including electricity and crematorium, according to a report released by the Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC) and Housing and Land Rights Network on Friday.
A group of former defence personnel had filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court, staking claim to the 48-acre land allotted for relocation of these families. The matter was sub judice until March 2018 when the court ruled that the land had been assigned to the resettled families and could not be allotted to the families of former defence personnel, according to the report.
However, the prolonged legal battle and consequent delay in issuing pattas has cost the families at Gudappakkam ‘Collector Nagar’ their lives, pushing them at least 10 years in terms of prospective development. Even after a year-and-a-half of the High Court order, no facilities have been provided for them. Out of the 4,000 relocated families, many have migrated to other places as the area is uninhabitable, leaving behind only 800 families today.
Of the 37 interior roads in the area, only three have been topped with tar. Children walk through sludge to get to school during rains. There have been 23 fire accidents in his informal settlement in the last 13 years, residents said.
Mallika R (65) and S Ramadas (73) have been fighting for their rights for the last 13 years.
“For the first four years after relocation, we did not have a place to bury the dead because the people who lived here (native community) objected to it. Those who had money took the bodies to their native villages. Though we have a burial ground now, there is no crematorium,” she said.
Vanessa Peter, policy researcher, IRCDUC, said, “How are lands identified for relocating the urban poor ? More often than not, land which is not in demand and where no one wants to live by choice is chosen.”
The report recommended that the resettlement policy should make provisions for an institutional framework which includes appointment of an designated official under the Department of Revenue and Disaster Management, to monitor all resettlement-related activities along with a district-level ombudsman to monitor and evaluate all resettlement programmes.
The Tiruvallur district collector was unavailable for comment.