Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board has commenced demolition of dilapidated tenements at Ayodhya Nagar (earlier Ayodhya Kuppam), among the first ever slum rehabilitation projects in Chennai, launched in the early 1970’s.

All the 704 tenements housed in 42 multi-storeyed blocks will be demolished and new ones built in their place and handed over to occupants in two years. Demolition commenced on Friday and by Sunday evening, two blocks were razed down.

This is part of a massive State-wide project to reconstruct dilapidated tenements that are 3 or 4 decades old, official sources said.

“I remember the construction of the multi-storeyed buildings and must have been six years old when we moved into our new ‘pucca’ house,” recalled R.Tiripurasundari (47). She remembers her parents and later, her husband, paying a monthly rent between Rs. 32 and Rs. 55 until the State government did away with rent collection a decade ago

The tenants are glad that new tenements will be constructed in two years time, but also sad that they will have to live on rent till then. “The government has given us Rs. 8,000 as compensation for the two years. It is not enough,” said N.V. Suguna. Apart from fishing, nearly everyone else had shops on Marina Beach.

Residents like her hope that the education of their children is not disturbed. Residents said they did not have any problem with drinking water or other amenities, but the cracks on the walls, roofs and poor maintenance had become a cause for concern.

Families would whitewash their interiors, while a few others also spent money on painting the outer walls too. Officials said the State government decided to reconstruct the Ayodhya Kuppam, along with 2,800 other tenements in other areas of the city and Tamil Nadu. Half of the tenements will be reconstructed in the first phase. The tenements are anywhere between 270 and 300 square feet in area now while the new ones will be 400 square feet.

Each of the 25 blocks will have ground plus three floors and each of the 704 tenements will cost around Rs. 8 lakh, officials added.