For the 1,000 families who decided to move to the new tenements constructed by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) in Ammankulam and at Ukkadam, it was a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. They had to choose between staying along the banks of Valankulam and Muthannankulam, the city's water bodies or go and risk their lives by taking up residence at TNSCB's sinking tenements.

Only around 20 per cent of the families were prepared to shift to the TNSCB houses because they were left with no other choice.

The remaining would rather live in squalor and disease at Valankulam-Muthannankulam in their ramshackle huts.

A. Sowdri, a daily wage earner, said his hopes on shifting to a new residence were dashed upon seeing the Ammankulam apartments that had begun to sink.

T. Palaniappan, who works as a driver, said they no longer trusted politicians who came to them with empty promises. Even after 30 years, nothing had been done to improve the standards of their dwelling place. He added that snakes and insects posed great threat to their lives on the banks of the tanks. They suffered during times of floods. “Yet, we manage to live in this unhygienic condition”, he said.

Noorjahan, living in the locality for 45 years, said that she was reluctant to move to the new tenements as she feared for her safety. Instead of fearing for their lives at the TNSCB houses, the Government should allot housing pattas to them so that they could remain at Valankulam.

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