All along the banks of the Cooum, are hundreds of new encroachments that are now under the scanner.

In 2006, around 20,000 dwellings were identified along its banks and over 5,000 of them were relocated to tenements built by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) in areas including Okkiyam Thoraipakkam, an official said.

The number of dwellings along the river therefore, should now have been close to 15,000. However, several new encroachments have reportedly sprung up in the last two months.

Many residents, it is alleged, have sold the houses allotted to them in Kannagi Nagar, and encroached once again upon the river’s banks.

Officials of the TNSCB in association with the Chennai River Restoration Trust, the Chennai Corporation and the Public Works Department are now planning to identify these additional encroachments in order to take action.

Officials said they were taking steps to determine the actual situation in the dwelling units that are supposed to be relocated, as earlier, there had been protests by residents near Thiruverkadu, who refused to accept the tokens given to residents for relocation, saying they had not encroached upon government land.

Resettlement of residents in the slums along the river will begin in March. Before the work on resettlement begins, officials have planned another study on new slums that have cropped up between Paruthipattu and Nappier bridge along the river. The study will help officials assess the gravity of resistance likely to be offered by residents of these areas.

A biometric survey of all residents in river bank settlements the State was undertaking, is yet to be completed, and has been hindered by residents’ resistance along 16 minor waterways in the city. Many such protests have been supported by a number of councillors of the Corporation. 

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