The report on forced evictions in India for 2021, released by the Delhi-based non-governmental organisation Housing and Land Rights Network, has shown that nearly 40,000 families in Tamil Nadu were facing the threat of eviction.
The number is among the highest in India, according to the report, which has made the conclusion on the basis of news reports, reports from State-level non-governmental organisations working in this area and information available in the public domain.
Many north-eastern States, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh were the other places with a higher number of families facing eviction. In many of these States, the threat of eviction was largely due to notification of forest reserves, infrastructure projects and court orders to remove encroachments.
In Tamil Nadu, the majority of the families facing eviction were in Chennai and Coimbatore districts. In Chennai, around 20,000 families may have to be evicted for the project to restore the Cooum and Adyar rivers. In Coimbatore, around 10,000 families may face eviction as the places where they resided were classified as encroachments on waterbodies. A number of eviction threats faced by families in other places like Tiruchi, Tirunelveli and the Nilgris districts are predominantly due to court orders asking the government to remove encroachments.
The report made a series of recommendations, which included a moratorium on forced eviction, adequate resettlement and rehabilitation measures that did not affect the quality of life and livelihood of the people, implementation of suggestions made in few progressive judgments of the higher judiciary, engaging with the community and obtaining their informed consent, and developing policies in line with the United Nations’ guidelines.
It can be noted that the Tamil Nadu government is yet to finalise its Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy even though a draft was released nearly a year ago.