Drive to evict over 2,000 families in S.M. Nagar begins

S. Amlu, a Class XI student from Sathyavani Muthu Nagar in Park Town, was gearing up to celebrate New Year with her friends.

On Sunday morning, she woke up with a start, to the sounds of an eviction drive aimed at throwing her family along with 2,000 others out of the colony. The eviction drive at one of the largest slum settlements will go on for 10 days.

“A month ago, the officials informed us that we would be evicted. But we were not told when. We were not even allowed to spend New Year in the locality where I spent my childhood,” she said, amid sobs.

Eviction of the 2,000 families is being undertaken as part of the Cooum river restoration project, taken up by the Chennai Rivers’ Restoration Trust. According to officials, as of now, eviction is under way at Gandhi Nagar, inside Sathyavani Muthu Nagar, as it comes in the Cooum’s right of way.

There was commotion in the morning, when officials came for the drive. “The residents opposed the move and a large posse of policemen was deployed. Isai Arasu Ambedkar, an auto driver who sings folk songs, and a few other CPI(M) members were picked up and assaulted by the police,” residents alleged.

Residents said that they were willing to vacate the place, but were against leaving in the middle of the academic year. “Students will suffer greatly as they will have to travel close to 40 km every day,” said M. Saravanan, a resident.

“We held meetings before the process began. Only those in the way of the river will be evicted. The power supply has been cut. Residents will be relocated to Perumbakkam,” said a Chennai Corporation official.

Move condemned

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol. Thirumavalavan visited the spot on Sunday evening. “The act of evicting residents during the mid-academic year is condemnable,” he said.

He said he had called up Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and highlighted the issue.

The Deputy Chief Minister had assured him that the demolition drive would be temporarily stopped until the exams got over, he added.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 6:52:23 PM |

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