The plan to shift them to a location near Old Mahabalipuram Road is in a limbo, reports Shivani Pandey

The plan to shift residents of Ambedkar Nagar, a slum on Muthuswamy Road near Park station, to a housing colony in Perumbakkam seems to be in a limbo – because the residents are not prepared to leave Broadway.

They cite loss of livelihood as reason for their intransigent stand. Perumbakkam is located around 30 km away from their current home, and these residents say they cannot continue their trade which is centred around Broadway.

Kaliyan, a senior citizen and a long time resident of the area, says, “We are reluctant to go because Perumbakkam is too far away and we cannot come here every day to ply our trade. We are ready to shift, only if we are allotted houses that are not more than five kilometres away from where we live now. Broadway is a crowded area where most of us working as flower merchants, vegetable merchants, and rickshaw pullers.”

He adds, “We are expecting to be placed at the Ennore Tsunami Quarters or in unused buildings near the RTO Office, Pulianthope. We have submitted a petition in this regard, but no action has been taken yet.”

At present, the residents live in appalling conditions. They have no choice but to use the public toilets at the nearby Broadway bus terminus and rely on the same for drinking water.

Meena, a housewife, says, “Getting water for cooking and drinking purposes daily is a tedious task.”

Kalyani, a flower merchant, says, “Mosquitoes are the biggest problem we suffer from. At any time, you will find at least a member from the family suffering from dengue or malaria.”

None of these things is as big a problem as the fact that out of the 350 families, only 259 are found registered in government records.

The rest missed out because they do not have ration cards. “New residents of the area are not getting their ration cards easily,” says Narayani.

Two NGOs, Karunalaya and World Vision, is working towards improving conditions in this locality. Karunalaya takes the problems of these slum dwellers to government agencies. It has also made them more aware about their rights. World Vision tries to improve their living standards.

Manuel Prince, a member of Karunalaya, says, “We have motivated them to fight for themselves.”

Now 75 per cent of the children in the area have started going to schools and colleges. Christina, a ninth standard student of YMCA Government aided school and Bharat, who is pursing an undergraduate degree in information technology, embody the change sweeping through the region.

World Vision has provided school bags, notebooks, pulleys to residents free of cost.

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