New houses and resettlement amount given, says CMRL; some dispute claims

Nearly 500 families have been displaced in various parts of the city over the past three years due to Chennai Metro Rail work.

While Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) is relocating and rehabilitating every family, a few families continue to have complaints.

Those living in makeshift tenements in areas such as Saidapet, Mannady, Todd Hunter Nagar in Nandanam and Esplanade near Madras High Court had to be relocated for Metro Rail work to begin. Initially, there had been resistance from residents unwilling to leave their homes of several decades.

After CMRL came up with an offer to build them concrete houses, each measuring around 300 sq. ft. and worth Rs. 5 lakh, through an arrangement with the Tamil Nadu Housing Board, the families agreed to shift, said officials.

The evicted families have relocated to the promised houses in Rani Anna Nagar, Kannagi Nagar, Eranavur, Thoraipakkam and Chemmenchery on the city’s outskirts. Each family has also been provided with a resettlement amount of Rs. 50,000, said officials involved in the resettlement process.

Since most of the families did not have a bank account, CMRL opened one for each family and deposited the amount, said an official. Persons with specific skill sets landed jobs as well.

For instance, CMRL has tied up with a major paint company where painters from the relocated families have been absorbed. While rag pickers in Saidapet have been given pushcarts, CMRL has employed some others to remove posters stuck on barricades put up for Metro Rail by paying them Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 per day, the official said.

Some residents of Davidson Street in Broadway, who had been evicted in July 2013, have a different story to tell, however.

“CMRL officials said we would have to live in an old building for three months after which we could move into the new houses. It has been nearly seven months now but nothing has happened,” said Radha Manickam, whose family was among those evicted.

“There is no hospital nearby and we have to travel half an hour every day in case of an emergency. It has been four days since we got water. Each of us spends at least Rs. 50 on bus travel every day,” she said.

P. Seethadevi’s new house in Kannagi Nagar remains locked and she has returned to Davidson Street. “We have not received the resettlement amount yet,” she said.

(Names of those evicted have been changed.)

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