The Chennai Corporation has suspended biometric identification of thousands of slum residents along 16 canals in the city, following stiff opposition from AIADMK councillors. The civic body had begun biometric identification of residents on slums near the Mambalam canal a few weeks ago, in order to issue smart cards, but AIADMK councillors opposed it, alleging that the list prepared by the previous DMK-led council had failed to include many actual beneficiaries. Once the biometric cards were issued, the residents of these slums were to be resettled.

The Corporation has now started a verification drive of beneficiaries, and the work is expected to resume after a revised beneficiaries' list is prepared, if the allegations are found to be true.

AIADMK councillor P. Arumugam said: “We will start a door-to-door enumeration to flush out bogus entries. Only after that will biometric data be collected from residents for the issue of smart cards.”

The clearance of encroachments along canals and roads in the city was proposed to begin in April, but the suspension of the biometric identification is likely to affect resettlement. The Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) had asked the Corporation to carry out the scheduled eviction of slum-dwellers along canals and road margins before the beginning of the next academic year, to avoid problems pertaining to school admissions for students.

Councillors of wards through which the Mambalam canal passes have complained that a large portion of the 2,500 residents identified along the Mambalam canal, no longer resided in those slums. “We will ask officials to give alternative accommodation only to eligible residents after eviction,” said N. Arumugam, another AIADMK councillor.

The Corporation is likely to resume the process of issuing smart cards (comprising data on the 10 fingerprints, iris and a photograph), next month. Encroachers who receive smart cards will be eligible for alternative accommodation by the TNSCB.

Canals including Mambalam, Captain Cotton, Vysarpadi, Kodungaiyur, Jawahar, MGR, Egankipuram, Jafferkhanpet and TVS, will be improved after the resettlement of the encroachers.

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Aloysius Xavier LopezJune 28, 2012

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