The residents of three wards, 131, 137 and 138 of the Greater Chennai Corporation protested in large numbers against the evacuation move of the government on November 26. They submitted a memorandum for issue of pattas (Record of Rights) as per the government order (GO) 318 published in August 2019. The protesters also condemned the state government’s partisan move to evacuate them while providing land pattas to corporate hospitals, schools, apartments and a guest house of the Hilton group hotel.
The Tahsildar assured of immediate remedy to the apprehensions raised by the residents and have ordered for measuring of boundaries within a week, much to the relief of the residents. The protest, held in front of Mambalam taluk office in Chennai, was led by Communist Party of India (Marxist) polit bureau member, G Rama Krishnan.
DOUBLE STANDARDS ON EVACUATION
The residents of Khanu nagar, Sooraipallam, Sanjai Gandhi colony and John kennedy street adjoining the banks of Adayar river have been facing the threat of evacuation since the past three decades. Much to their agony, the state government and revenue department have already earmarked the boundary along the river bank for evacuation. But the double standards are apparently visible as many private hospitals, schools and guest house of Hilton group of hotels have been issued land pattas in the same area, allege the residents.
The private hospitals and schools find the banks of rivers a preferred destination for their projects as the disposal of waste becomes easier. The Adayar river has now been converted to a sewage drain after several private hospitals, apartments and school came up in the banks.
Govt Evicts Residents
The consecutive state governments have repeatedly taken measures to throw out the residents of the city to the outskirts in the name of beautification. Meanwhile, the plight of these poor dwellers remain unattended. The residents alleged that their repeated requests for house pattas failed to evoke any positive response from the revenue officials while the private houses get approvals and pattas at unimaginable pace.
“The state governments have shown keen interest on evicting the socially and economically backward people from the banks of Adayar river after the floods in Chennai in 2015. These residents have been living in these areas for around four decades in small houses ranging from three hundred to four hundred square feet. These people have contributed much to the process of building Chennai to what it is now and the merciless government wants to throw them out of the city”, said G Selva of the CPI(M).
The TNSCB, which is entrusted with the duty of building apartments for the slum dwellers, has planned to allocate houses to these residents in Chemmanjeri and Thraipakkam, around 25 kms away. The residents allege that such a move would cause great difficulties for them to reach their workplaces and educational institutions.
Selva added, “The decision to allot houses at such a faraway place is unacceptable. There are lands available within 3 km distance of the location under dispute. We strongly demand that the government should construct houses in such places to eliminate the difficulties faced by the people. They should not be removed from their present residences as they have not illegally encroached any areas here.”
PROTECT ADAYAR RIVER
The residents and the CPI(M) have also demanded the government to initiate steps to protect the river Adayar. The river was once the lifeline of farmers of the region and a source of drinking water. Due to continuous neglect, the river has become a dumping ground for hotels, apartments and builders with waste water and materials, while steps like desilting or deepening the river have not been undertaken for several years.
“The river has been converted literally into a sewage drain due to encroachment of banks by a number of corporate hospitals and hotels. The untreated effluents have a number of adverse implications. The government should come forward to stop such activities and protect the river instead of concentrating only on the evacuation of the poor people,” said Selva.