Tenement residents sleep outdoors fearing more building collapses

Fall of an entire block on Monday has raised concerns about safety of other structures that were built at the same time

Published: 29th December 2021 06:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th December 2021 06:35 AM   |  A+A-

Residents wait outside their houses after a building collapse in Tiruvottiyur, on Tuesday | R Abishieke

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Several residents at the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board housing unit on Grama Street in Tiruvottiyur spent the night on the road, fearing their tenements would have the same fate as the block that collapsed on Monday. Seetha G, a resident of a block near the D block that collapsed on Monday, said they slept outside on a temple’s premises with only a bedsheet under them. 

“My daughter and her 10-day-old baby are with us. We slept outside because we could not take the risk. All the buildings were constructed around the same time. So, if one has collapsed, there is a possibility the others would fall too,” she said. Some, in the nearby blocks, have not mustered the courage to set foot into their homes to pick up their belongings or clothes. Some of the other residents have begun to pack up their belongings to find other places to stay.

While the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board officials have arranged three community halls nearby to house residents of the damaged buildings, some residents are hesitant to go. “We have young girls, and in a community hall, they won’t even have privacy to change clothes. So, we decided to sleep by the road,” said Kamatchi, another resident. Residents said when the earth-movers were clearing the debris and trying to demolish what was left of the damaged building, an impact was felt on the neighbouring blocks.

“As they tried to clear the building, we felt the neighbouring buildings including ours were becoming unstable. So, they stopped the work,” said Kamatchi. Officials of the Urban Habitat Development Board told TNIE the residents needed counselling, and that officials were coordinating with them to ease their fears.

They added that 48 families (24 from the collapsed D block, and 24 from the partially damaged adjacent E block) may be shifted to KP Park if they are willing. Some residents, however, were against shifting to KP Park, and instead sought houses at Kargil Nagar nearby. Officials said they were discussing all the possibilities with the residents. A compensation of `1 lakh each was given to 28 families (24 from D block, and four from E block), on Monday.

Panel okays other blocks
According to official sources, the technical committee that was appointed to check the quality of the remaining tenements has okayed residing in the tenements, after preliminary observations. “The committee has said it is safe for the residents to continue staying in the other blocks except the E block,” said an official

Panel findings

62 schemes yet to be assessed by the  technical committee 

123 schemes under Urban Habitat Development Board are over 25 yrs old

20,453 of the 22,271 tenements assessed have been recommended for reconstruction


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