The thought of stepping into her home at Sunnambukulam in Gummidipoondi taluk makes M. Shanthi, a mother of three teenagers, jittery. Her two-room house turned into a nightmare on March 23, 2013, when a portion of the ceiling collapsed on her and her husband, injuring them badly.

“It happened at afternoon, and hence we were lucky that our children were not at home. We were asleep when a portion of the ceiling fell on us. I sustained injuries on my chest, hands and lost plenty of blood. It took six months to get back on my feet,” she recounted.

Shanthi’s house is among the 150 group houses at the fishermen’s quarters at Sunnambukulam, Gummidipoondi taluk of Tiruvallur district that are in a damaged condition. The Fisheries department had constructed these houses in 1991.

Her daughter M. Pradeepa, a college student, said she and her two younger brothers are never allowed to go inside the dilapidated home. “The walls have developed several cracks. We borrowed money and have constructed a small room adjacent to our house,” she said.

The ceilings of many of the houses here have worn out revealing the iron bars. “We are scared of staying at our own homes. We think twice before making our children sleep under the damaged ceiling. The situation becomes worse during rains when water seeps into the houses,” N.T. Desingu, a fisherman and resident said.

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