Residents question eviction at Govindasamy Nagar

Those occupying the buildings reject the allotment of alternative housing outside city

Updated - May 02, 2022 04:03 am IST

Published - May 01, 2022 08:46 pm IST - CHENNAI

There was a strong police presence at Elango Road in Govindasamy Nagar during the eviction drive.

There was a strong police presence at Elango Road in Govindasamy Nagar during the eviction drive. | Photo Credit: M. KARUNAKARAN

The residents of Govindasamy Nagar have questioned their ongoing eviction from the locality near the Buckingham Canal and alleged the failure of successive governments to argue their case appropriately in the court and non-allocation of alternative housing within city limits.

According to the government, the eviction is being done following contempt proceedings initiated by an individual in the Supreme Court against the government’s alleged failure to implement a previous order. A total of 366 families were evicted a few years before while another 259 are slotted for eviction now.

While there was opposition to the eviction process, some said they would be willing to relocate as a last resort if alternative accommodation was provided within the city. However, officials said that houses were available for them only in the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board (TNUHDB) tenements in Perumbakkam, Semmencheri, and Navalur.

Following protests by the residents on Friday, there was a strong police presence on Saturday. Outsiders, including the media, were denied access. Demolition of buildings were temporarily halted on Sunday.

Apart from apprehensions over finding alternative livelihood options in places like Perumbakkam, a key concern was about the timing since many schoolchildren were awaiting their annual examinations. The residents have not been provided the one-time allowance, which is usually provided during such evictions.

S. Ganesan, a long-time resident, said the locality was notified as a slum in 1973. He attributed the present situation to the inability of successive governments to fight their case properly in the case filed by an individual.

Vanessa Peter, founder, Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC), alleged that the eviction was done without adherence to the standard operating procedures, which, according to the government, were followed during the recent evictions in Arumbakkam. She questioned the non-availability of the standard operating procedures in the public domain and the delay in finalising the “Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy,” which ought to provide governing principles for such evictions.

The evictions were being carried out by the Public Works Department, the Greater Chennai Corporation and the TNUHDB. A senior official from one of the departments, speaking on anonymity, said they were able to follow the standard operating procedures fully in Arumbakkam since the public there were cooperating. The residents were not eligible for one-time allowance as the eviction was part of the court order. Officials have been advised to temporarily leave the houses which had schoolchildren.

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