CHENNAI: Close to 50 families who had occupied pavements near the Egmore Railway Station were evicted on Saturday by the City Corporation and the police. The residents were put up at a shelter near Pattalam temporarily.
The squatters rued that they were evicted without notice and their livelihood will be hit. “Our utensils and vessels were loaded onto a lorry without our consent and we were forcefully moved,” said 22-year-old Radha*, a resident. They said they had lived in Egmore for about 50 years and many young people had graduated from college while being here.
With this eviction, their future seems uncertain as they do not know where they will be shifted to. “The officials said they will give us proper housing after 10 days but we are not sure about it. When we enquired, many families relocated before us are still living at the shelter in Pattalam,” said Sudha*, another resident.
On Saturday, the sudden evictions caused tension and traffic snarls, as people took to the streets in protest. Some even attempted self-immolation. Rajesh*, a youth, said, “If they had given us housing and evicted us, we would not have protested. Many here drive autos and do small jobs for a living. We can’t live anywhere else.”
Social activist Vanessa Peter of the Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities said the evictions have taken place in an inhuman way. “Their relocation site hasn’t been communicated and the residents have been evicted without any prior notice too,” she said.
On the other hand, the Corporation officials claimed they had already informed the residents about the move. “They have been temporarily placed in the shelter but once we identify the tenements for them, they will be shifted immediately. It won’t take more than 10 days,” the official added.