CHENNAI: Between March 2020 and June 2021, the Tamil Nadu government evicted 2,045 families in Coimbatore, Chennai, and Madurai, a report by the Housing and Land Rights Network, released on Thursday, said.
Titled ‘Forced Evictions in India in 2020: A Grave Human Rights Crisis During the Pandemic’, the report stated that in a two-day demolition drive held in Chennai in December 2020, the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board razed 30 houses at Thideer Nagar and 190 houses at Sathyavani Muthu Nagar under the Integrated Cooum River Eco-Restoration Project.
“As a mark of protest against their forced eviction and relocation, some of the families from Sathyavani Muthu Nagar stood neck-deep in the sewage-laden Cooum River for five hours,” it said. The report further said that the forced evictions left several low income families vulnerable to Covid-19 due to their inadequate living conditions, low levels of nutrition, and lack of access to adequate healthcare, water, and sanitation.
“To demolish their homes and evict them during this health emergency, greatly amplifies their exposure to the virus and threatens their lives. It also impedes recovery of those who had Covid,” it said, adding education was also affected as children had to shift during mid academic year.
Quoting a 14-year-old girl, who resettled to Perumbakkam, the report said, “I have two siblings. My parents lost their jobs after we resettled. I used to study in a private English-medium school before our eviction, but after shifting my parents were unable to pay the fees. As Perumbakkam is too far from my old school, I am now enrolled in a nearby government school.” The report concluded: “the unrelenting crisis of forced evictions in India...is also a grave humanitarian crisis.”