Comprehensive housing policy needed, says expert

The quality and design of TNSCB’s construction has created several unsolved problems

Published - September 02, 2019 12:26 am IST - Chennai

Poor quality and design of the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) houses have often faced severe criticism from experts. Residents claim that the tenements are not creating a barrier-free environment for women, children or persons with disabilities.

“The ceiling leaks, there are cracks in the buildings, the elevators don’t work. The list goes on. However, more than anything, they are not safe for women. The corridors and alleys inside the settlement are dark due to poor lighting,” said B. Shanti, a resident of Perumbakkam, who lives in a 300 sq ft house.

Not child-friendly

Residents of the TNSCB tenements in Seeniamman Koil Street complain that the buildings are not child-friendly. “The kids do not even have a park to play. The existing one nearby is in bad shape,” said M. Gururajan, a resident.

Gunasekaran, a resident of Gudapakkam, and a Sri Lankan repatriate, said the TNSCB should try different construction designs instead of the ‘classic ghetto model’.

Residents also want a separate space for kitchen.

“As on date, water connections are not given in the kitchen. People have to collect water from the bathroom,” said a resident of Perumbakkam.

As the number of evictions increased, the number of floors increased, and now, they have eight-storied buildings, which activists and residents claim is a flawed model. “The elevators are not maintained properly and do not work in many of the tenements. Residents, especially the old, have trouble climbing the stairs,” said K. Gomathi of Perumbakkam.

Vanessa Peter, policy researcher, Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities, felt that the primary reason for the existing gaps in the TNSCB housing programmes was the absence of a housing policy or guidelines or standards to ensure adequate housing. There is no mechanism available to monitor and evaluate housing projects.

‘4 walls, a roof’

“So far, the approach of the TNSCB has been just to provide four walls and a roof above. However, it should ideally include civic infrastructure facilities, social amenities, and linkages to various social security measures,” she said.

She feels that failure to adopt a comprehensive community development approach in housing will only result in the concretisation of slums.

“Housing, as a standalone approach, will not address the other prevailing socio-economic factors,” she added.

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