8 years after tsunami, reconstruction of tenements yet to take off

Nearly eight years after the tsunami, the reconstruction of dilapidated tenements along the Marina is yet to take off as residents of Nochikuppam continue to refuse to move from the slum tenements.

The Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board is yet again attempting to get them to shift to temporary shelters to facilitate reconstruction of the buildings.

It has offered to finish the reconstruction within a year and repair the temporary shelters. It has also warned that it will not take responsibility for any loss suffered by the residents during the northeast monsoon.

Residents however, cite loss of livelihood and bad amenities in the temporary shelters as reasons for their defiance.

In the aftermath of the tsunami, the Board had decided to reconstruct the damaged tenements with funding from the World Bank. However, only section of the beneficiaries of the new tenements to be constructed at Nochikuppam, Doomingkuppam and Selvarajapuram have moved to the temporary shelters so far. Some months ago, the World Bank delinked itself from the project owing to the residents’ refusal. The State government then stepped in and decided to once again initiate the project six months ago.

However, despite meetings and campaigns, the authorities have not been able to convince residents to move and the project to construct 1,644 tenements has thus been put on hold.

Residents of Nochikuppam demand that the government must take up fresh enumeration of the families living in the tenements and fishing community must be given priority.

B. Maran, a resident of Nochikuppam and president of Tamil Nadu Meenavar Munnetra Sangam, said that more than one family now resides in a tenement that was allotted to their parents in 1970-71. “Only about 60 per cent of the residents, including fisherfolk, have moved to temporary shelters. Our livelihood will be affected if we move out and we cannot go to any other place,” he added.

Residents also complained that the temporary shelters do not have proper sewerage facility and are congested.

In a press release, the TNSCB said that the buildings are in a dilapidated condition. It has been four years since about 1,900 temporary shelters were constructed. Only 600 families have shifted to them.

Many such unoccupied temporary shelters are damaged now and electrical wires, doors and windows have been removed.

If residents move out of the tenements, the existing structures with three floors would give way to new tenements with stilt-plus-four floors with additional space of 70 sq.ft. for each flat and piped water supply, said TNSCB officials.

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