CHENNAI: Most of the 59 families evacuated from pavements near Egmore railway station and resettled at the newly built tenements at KP Park on Tuesday had a sleepless night. This is because plaster from the newly constructed houses has been chipping, there was absolutely no water and broken alcohol bottles were found inside a few homes.
Over the last one month, 308 families from Villivakkam, Arumbakkam and Egmore have been accommodated at the new block in KP Park, Pulianthope. While the block looks really good from outside with brightly painted walls and pathways, the interiors paint a different picture. Paint and cement chip off as residents hit the wall with bare hands. Water is stagnated in the corridors and there is an unbearable stench.
Fearing the worst, residents slept in parking areas and adjacent streets — Demellows and Elephant Gate Road from Tuesday. Even women with infants were seen sleeping near the dusty roads. “One of the main issues is water, which is supplied only between 8 to 8:30 am. With most of us involved in unskilled labour, our work begins by 7 am. If there is no one at home at the time of supply, we have no water. Moreover, all toilets are built in western style, which comparatively requires more water. We have pregnant and lactating mothers, who are unable to use the washrooms due to water scarcity,” said R Mahalakshmi, who was resettled from Egmore.
The building is so fragile that if somebody tries to hammer a nail, it cracks the plaster and there is a hole in the wall. The residents installed lights and other basic amenities using ropes and glue. “I am a construction worker. The quality of the building is so bad that it might collapse anytime. Apart from this, even the windows are broken in a few houses,” said another resident who arrived from Villivakkam 15 days ago.
Notably, the Centre for Urbanisation, Building and Environment (CUBE), which assessed quality of the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board (TNUHDB) at KP Park, found poor quality and unacceptable workmanship of plastering as one of the critical defects out of several discrepancies that led to faulty construction in the tenements. The report was submitted in October.
Adding to the woes, tipplers from older blocks occupy the first floor of the new block (which is currently empty). Complaints to the police did not have much effect. When contacted, an official from the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board said, “The metrowater pipe carrying water to the new block is damaged. Only after it is repaired, water can be released at regular intervals. About construction lapses, it is the mistake of the contractor. We do not have a role to play, he said.