The Chennai-based Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC) has done a mapping of settlements along the Buckingham Canal between Cooum and Adyar rivers in a bid to document their present status and encourage the government to explore in situ development options.
The assessment by IRCDUC has come in the wake of recent eviction of families in Govindasamy Nagar and with the government planning to go ahead with the project for the restoration of Buckingham Canal, which has raised concerns of displacement of large number of families.
The organisation has mapped 34 settlements that have around 10,000 families. Almost all these settlements have existed for four to five decades. Some areas like Mattan Kuppam has existed for around two centuries, the organisation said. The data compiled has been submitted to Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board.
Vanessa Peter, founder of IRCDUC, said the exercise was to bring transparency in data on the status of these settlements as even the people residing there did not have data. She said the exercise was meant to make the government put the data in public domain.
“Apart from field visits, we have predominantly relied on data available with the TNUHDB. However, much of this information is not available publicly, but had to be collected through Right to Information Act and other means,” she said.
Stressing on the need for the government to make data available in the public domain, she said the information, for instance, on whether a settlement was classified as an “objectionable slum” or “unobjectionable slum” is crucial for the people residing there. “We relied on data collected in 2005 and later in 2015. There have been discrepancies between both in case of a few settlements,” she said.
Ms. Peter said their field surveys showed that options such as in situ development, granting of sale deeds in areas that have already developed, and accommodating people in nearby housing projects were available in many of these settlements. “We want the government to consider these options instead of evicting and resettling communities in faraway places,” she said.