Evicted families claim they were misled about resettlement site

It was just 6 in the morning but Sujatha had already neatly stacked all her bags outside her shanty, and was in the process of handing them to her husband, Murugan, who was loading them on to a truck. Sujatha and her family, along with 46 others who were living along EVR Periyar Salai, were all set to be carted from their houses to one of the resettlement tenements constructed by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB). They were evicted as part of the Cooum River Eco -Restoration Project.

It was only while they were busy loading their belongings that a few realised that they were being relocated to another site and not the one they had been promised. Residents alleged they had been assured houses in Gudapakkam, near Thirumazhisai, but later came to know that they were being moved to Ezhil Nagar in Perumbakkam instead. “This came as a surprise to us,” said Sarathi, one of the residents. “Many of us had gone to Gudapakkam to check out the new place and we were satisfied. But we are dismayed now because we know how the houses in Perumbakkam are,” he said.

A few residents questioned the Corporation officials on duty about the sudden shift. But they were told there might have been some confusion since it had been already decided that all the families in the area will be shifted to the Perumbakkam tenements. “We had informed the residents about the relocation site a month ago. We do not know what caused the confusion. We have been very clear with them from the start,” said a Corporation official. Finally, Sarathi, like the rest, had no option but to leave.

None of the families were given the mandatory shifting allowance of ₹5,000. TNSCB oficials clarified that most families were yet to submit their identification documents and bank account details, and once the details were verified, the families would be provided with both the shifting allowance and the subsistence allowance of ₹2,500, which resettled families receive every month for a year. Vanessa Peter, policy researcher, Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities, called it a violation of their basic rights. “They were misinformed about the place they would be moved to. The authorities must look into this,” she said.

Other residents protest

Nearby, on Kanniah Street, over 60 families, which are to be relocated soon, were putting up a resistance.

“The officials came here a month ago to conduct a survey. We refused to cooperate because this land was allotted to us legally by the then Collector,” said A. Ramathoothan, a resident. pointing to a number of tax receipts. “We have been promptly paying all our taxes. How can they ask us to relocate? Also, these are pucca houses and not huts,” he said. Officials from the Corporation said that they would be relocating more families along the Cooum next week, and will also be providing houses to those who were left out in previous eviction drives.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 10:36:19 PM |

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