T. Kavitha, a 32-year-old domestic worker, was standing outside her house on Nallamuthu Mariamman Koil Street, Aminjikarai, with her three young children and their many bags.
“We have been asked to relocate to Perumbakkam from this house where we lived for generations,” said Ms. Kavitha, who along with over 100 families from her area and the nearby Sunnambu Kalvai Street, watched as many of their houses were razed to the ground.
While most families from the areas climbed on to the trucks to move to their new homes, Ms. Kavitha and 30-odd families will have to wait for their allotment orders. “We had filled out all the necessary forms as directed by the local authorities last week. They informed us that we will be relocated, but they didn’t tell us when. Today, they arrived at 8 a.m. and began demolishing our homes. We had to rush and pack our things. While many have gone to their new houses, we have been asked to wait, we do not for how long or where,” she said.
Officials from the Greater Chennai Corporation have identified 202 families, who had set up houses on objectionable land in Zone 8, as part of their Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Project Affected Families on the banks of the Cooum river.
While 96 families have been relocated to the Perumbakkam tenements, the rest, according to officials, will be allotted homes subsequently.
Adding to this, officials from the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board said that each relocated family is being provided with Rs. 5,000 as shifting cost, drinking water and new ration cards and each will receive the monthly subsistence amount of Rs. 2,000.
“We are allotting houses to families as and when they arrive. We are in constant touch with the local authorities and the corporation to give houses to all,” said an official from the board.
Even as officials have been working on relocating them, the slum dwellers have raised concerns about their future prospects in their new homes.
“Our situation is going to be similar to the ones we know there. What will we do? How will we survive,” questioned Murugan, a daily wage worker whose house was razed to the ground.
“And why is it that only slums have to be demolished and not the many illegal commercial buildings that function across the city,” he questioned.