Land to be utilised for construction of tracks for athletics meet

Chennai Corporation on Saturday began evicting residents from the land near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to facilitate construction of additional tracks for Asian Athletics Championship.

However, many residents resisted the move and alleged that they had not been provided any alternative accommodation.

Nearly 94 families were shifted from the area to Kannagi Nagar on Saturday and 83 more are expected to be relocated by Sunday, a Chennai Corporation official said.

Many resisted the move. While Vinayakamurthy said he had cleared the bushes and built a home some years ago but was now being asked to move despite not being eligible for alternative accommodation, Rajeswari, another resident claimed that her house had been destroyed some years ago in a fire and her claim for alternative dwellings was not being accepted.

Another round of enumeration will be carried out to provide alternative accommodation for eligible residents.

Activists too questioned the timing and logic of the move. Leelavathi of Penn Urimai Iyakkam said that the inhabitants had been moved twice before they finally settled down at the Old zoo slum area. “This is the middle of the academic year. School students will now have to travel 40 km for the four more months. The Corporation could have waited till March,” she said.

R. Geetha of Unorganised Workers Federation pointed out that Kannagi Nagar already does not have proper water supply. “The condition of those who have been taken there already is bad. Why are these people also being taken there,” she said.

After the eviction, the Chennai Corporation will hand over eight-acre of land to the Sports Development Authority of the State for creation of additional infrastructure. Chennai will host the Asian Athletics Championship in August 2013.

A Rs. 40-crore package to renovate the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium to relay its track and upgrade facilities to bring them on a par with international standards was approved last year.  

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