Encroachments are back along the Cooum in Chetpet

Seeking shelter: Makeshift huts put up along the Cooum on Spurtank Road in Chetpet.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

A group of people claiming to be tribals have put up huts, encroaching the banks of Cooum river along Spurtank Road in Chetpet. They claimed that they belonged to the Kurru tribe, which depended on hunting and gathering from forests on the outskirts of the city.

At least 50 members of the community have constructed huts, claiming that they were rendered homeless after being evicted by the Greater Chennai Corporation officials a few years ago. The officials, who enumerated the affected families, refused to allot houses in the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board tenements as they were Telugu-speaking people, they charged. Badanapuri Venkat, one of the encroachers, said the community, which speaks Kurrubasha, a tribal language, had been residing in the city for many generations but they were not able to vote during the recent Assembly election as they were removed from the electoral rolls. “We have been requesting officials for houses but they refused. We have no other alternative during the lockdown. So we have constructed huts for the safety of our women and children,” he said.

Officials had refused to give them Scheduled Tribe certificates, denying benefits of government welfare schemes, they claimed. Badanapuri Ramu, another member, said they had requested the State government to help them get homes and shops to sell bamboo products. Residents complained about the encroachments and demanded they be evicted immediately.

Officials said they would remove the encroachments and construct a compound wall along the river after the lockdown.

After the removal of encroachments, the Corporation and other line agencies will implement the integrated Cooum River Ecorestoration Project, estimated at a cost of ₹10,000 crore.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 4:26:41 AM |

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