CHENNAI: Evictions, as part of the Cooum river eco restoration, resumed on Thursday with around 93 families in Radhakrishnan Nagar in Arumbakkam resettled to the KP Park Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) tenements.
A total of 247 families are to be moved in batches. “We had initially planned to allot houses in Perumbakkam but due to the residents’ request, we have allotted houses in KP Park near Pulianthope, within the city limits,” said an official on the site, who did not want to be named.
While some residents were happy to be resettled, a few others who had rented houses in the settlement for many years said they did not receive allotments. The house owners themselves, who received allotments instead, have safe houses elsewhere in the city, said residents.
“We have lived here for over 20 years. I have a 15-year-old daughter and we have nowhere to go now. The rent here is only around Rs 2,000. I cannot rent a house anywhere else for less than Rs 5,000 and I also have to pay a deposit, both of which I cannot afford,” said Sampath Kumar, a daily wager. Sampath and his wife have dumped their belongings under the bridge nearby and plan to stay the night there.
Most men in the settlement are daily wagers or drivers while women worked as domestic help in the neighbouring areas. “We were told our houses would be demolished but we were not informed that it would be this soon,” said Ravi Prema, who works as a domestic help.
Activists who were on the field on Thursday, raised concerns on the procedures followed ahead of resettlement. “While KP Park is a better option than Perumbakkam, there are several families already living there in makeshift arrangements as the houses are being rebuilt under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Secondly, a written notice should have been issued which would have clarified many of these issues,” said activist R Geetha of the Unorganised Workers Federation.
However, when Express visited the spot, no Covid safety procedures were enforced by officials at the time of evictions. Residents gathered in groups and several were found not wearing masks.