Alternative housing for them will be ready only in 2 months

The Chennai Corporation on Monday removed several houses and a small temple that came in the way of a proposed approach road to a new bridge connecting Rajiv Gandhi Salai and Indira Nagar. The bridge was recently inaugurated by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa via teleconferencing.

Even as local civic body officials, with the assistance of a strong police posse, bulldozed homes, a 35-year-old homemaker doused herself with kerosene protesting the move. However, Saraswati was stopped before she could set fire to herself. “My husband, a car driver has gone out for work and the children to school. What will I tell them when they come back and find no house here,” she asked.

After Mayor Saidai S Duraisamy intervened, her house was not demolished on Monday although it will be pulled down later. The residents said that only after Saraswati threatened to give up her life did the Corporation issue tokens to them. Over 20 families were provided these tokens as interim measures. Most of these families had been assured that they would be resettled at Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) tenements. However, the tenements will be ready in another two months. The tokens carry the name, address and the number given to them when they were enumerated by the TNSCB. But they do not give any assurance that the residents would be given alternative housing.

A few residents, who did not get tokens, were asked to meet the assistant commissioner in-charge of Adyar zone on Tuesday.

89-year-old Kamalamma, who was not given a token, said that she had been living at the place for over 60 years and had even cultivated crops. Refusing to move to another location, she said she would rather die during the encroachment removal drive. Govindan(72), who cannot walk without help, said that he had been forcefully removed from his house along with utensils, grinder, TV, wooden almirah, bedding and other stuff. His wife, Dhanalakshmi, a flower seller who is disabled said that they had no place to go.

“Our relatives will allow us to stay with them for a few days but they cannot take our things. We were hoping the slum board tenements would be allotted before the eviction,” said Shanthi, another evictee.

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