CHENNAI: The vagueness of a section in the draft policy note on resettlement and rehabilitation prepared by the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board has triggered apprehension among target communities and activists here.
Under the section (Identification of land for resettlement), the draft note says, “Travelling time by bus or train should not be more than half an hour to reach the nearest urban areas from where people are expected to be relocated.”
The clause, if implemented, could mean a person can be relocated to identified locations in Chennai’s neighbouring districts such as Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, and Chengalpattu, far from one’s original place of habitation and work.
According to a master plan prepared by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, 78.47 per cent of those living in informal settlements in the city walk to their workplaces, 5.52 per cent use cycles, and 15.76 per cent use public transport for commute.
An activist, seeking anonymity, said, “Recognising the integral linkage between the place of habitation to that of livelihood and survival is important. Strategies like vacant land mapping exercises engaging the different land-owning departments should be undertaken to select lands in cases where relocation is unavoidable.”
Loss of access to existing workplaces was a major cause of concern for the majority of people evicted from city limits, including the recent eviction in Sathyavani Muthu Nagar. New Delhi, Jharkhand, and Bihar are some of the States and UTs that have policies stating resettlement should happen close to the original habitation, according to the Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities.
“As far as possible, identification of relocation sites should be made close to the original slum area. Only in case of nonavailability of developable sites within the specified range may far-site resettlements be undertaken,” policy notes of Jharkhand and Bihar stated.
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