Special Correspondent

Tsunami-hit people living in poor housing conditions, says report

CHENNAI: A people's tribunal report released by the Coastal Community Protection Committee has faulted the State Government for neglecting Chennai and Tiruvallur in tsunami rehabilitation saying the two districts were "less affected."

The report has said: "Tsunami-affected people in Chennai and Tiruvallur have been living in grossly inadequate housing conditions for over two years." Officer on Special Duty (Relief and Rehabilitation) C.V. Sankar received the first copy of the report.

The people of the coastal villages of Chennai and Tiruvallur organised themselves under the banner of the Coastal Community Protection Committee to challenge the Government on issues pertaining to their rehabilitation. They held a tribunal in January to hear the views of all those affected.

During the depositions, issues of forced eviction, failed rehabilitation, intimidation and violence against women by the police emerged. They were compiled into a report, which along with a declaration by the jury, comprising seven members and headed by UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Miloon Kothari was presented at a public meeting here on Thursday.

Those in temporary shelters had been forced to live in inadequate housing conditions without access to livelihood, education and health services for over two years. The report also condemned the ever-persistent threat of forced eviction being faced by communities at Srinivasapuram and Anna Nagar. The Dalits, Irulas and other minorities continued to face discrimination in rehabilitation and resettlement, it said.

Articulating some of the demands of the jury, one of its members Henry Tiphagne of People's Watch said the State should reassure the fishing communities that they would not be evicted and set deadlines for completing housing projects.

He called for a State-appointed grievance redress mechanism to address these problems and special relief from the Prime Minister's or Chief Minister's Relief Fund to the women of fishing hamlets in North Chennai who sold their kidney because of poverty.

Replying to the demands, Mr. Sankar said that of the 54,000 houses that had to be rebuilt during the first phase of rehabilitation, 22,000 had been handed over. In North Chennai, 2,365 houses had to be built and 1,392 were in the final stages of completion.