Administration cannot take responsibility for them: Mayor

A safe night shelter is all that Muhammad Iraq, a native of Uttar Pradesh, is searching for.

Mr. Iraq is one among the nearly 150 drifters who were evicted from their temporary hutments set up at Manapattyparambu on Wednesday.

While most of the evictees spent their night at the railway station and nearby public areas on the night of eviction, some were planning to return to Manapattyparambu. Mr. Iraq was also nursing the hope of returning to the area. He, along with his family members, came to explore the possibility of returning to Manapattyparambu on Thursday evening. He left his kids at the Ernakulam North Railway station to spend the day and returned to the Manapattyparambu with his relatives, including women.

“Why are we being forced out of the place and that too without any notice? Are we not Indians?” asked Mr. Iraq. “We sell toys and drums during our three-month-long stay here and return to our homes by the end of the season. Are we being forced out of this place only because we are poor?” he asked.

At the same time, civic authorities of Kochi toughened their stand against attempts to occupy and encroach upon the public land in the city.

No government and the civic body would be able to rehabilitate all the migrants who reach the city due to a resource crunch and the Kochi Corporation is determined to protect its public places, a duty expected of the civic body, said Mayor Tony Chammany.

“Let those compassionate persons who espoused the case of the evictees shelter them at their private holdings or any other area in their custody. The Kochi Corporation cannot own up the responsibility of providing shelter to all those who reach here for some business or other,” he said.

Some of the protestors had reached the Kochi Corporation office on Thursday demanding rehabilitation of the evictees, but could not meet the Mayor, who was away at Thiruvananthapuram.

T.K. Ashraf, chairman of the Health Standing Committee of the Kochi Corporation, came up with an offer to translocate the migrants to Perumbavoor or nearby places where scores of workers have already settled.

“I have offered them transport facilities to move to Perumbavoor and Rs. 500 each for every family to move out of the city. The public places of the city will have to be protected and unauthorised settlers will not be allowed to stay back,” he said.

A large number of workers from Tamil Nadu and other States are living in Kochi in rented houses in areas like Vathuruthy. No agency will be able to provide shelter to the migrants, he said.

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