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About 30 families from Arumbakkam allege that government officials overseeing the resettlement drive are refusing to allot them houses over cases filed against evictions.

About 30 families from Arumbakkam allege the Tamil Nadu government officials overseeing the resettlement drive are refusing to allot them houses
news Housing Tuesday, August 24, 2021 - 15:12

Jhansi, a resident of Chennai’s Arumbakkam, took a day off from her job as a domestic worker in Anna Nagar on Monday, August 23 in hopes of being allocated a home at KP Park. She waited all day, but the Tamil Nadu government officials paid no heed to her and 29 other families that reside in her lane. By evening, Jhansi was in tears. “I fell at their feet and pleaded with them to allot us a house but they treated me like a dog and shooed me away,” she claimed.

About 30 families from Arumbakkam allege the Tamil Nadu government officials overseeing the resettlement drive are refusing to allot them houses. “Someone filed a police complaint against the government officials when they were carrying out evictions. The officials got angry over this and said they will not allot us houses,” said Janvi, who alleged that the officials even sought a bribe of Rs 2 lakh. “They said if we give Rs 2 lakh they will allot us a house within 2 hours,” she added.

The Tamil Nadu government is in the process of resettling 1,000 odd families residing at Arumbakkam’s RK Nagar as part of the Cooum River Eco Restoration Project. These families are being resettled in KP Park at Pulianthope, and a team of officials are going door to door, verifying the credentials of residents of the colony and allocating them houses. The officials told TNM that the case the locals are referring to pertains to a complaint filed by commercial establishments against the eviction drive which included signatures from 15 residents of the colony.

Ramesh, who works as a daily wage labourer, said his sister and her family who live a street away were allotted a new home at KP Park but the officials are refusing to visit the part of the colony where he resides. “This person who filed the case also forged the signatures of 15 other people in our lane,” claimed the RK Nagar resident. “I don’t even know if my name is in that list of 15 people. We begged and pleaded with the officials, trying to explain to them that we had nothing to do with the complaints, but they refuse to listen to us or visit our lane to allot houses,” he alleged.

The residents are now trying to speak to the person who filed the case and get it withdrawn. “We’re trying to get the case withdrawn,” said Ramesh, who is not sure why the case was filed in the first place. “We got to know about the case only from the officials. They were avoiding our lane and so we asked them, that’s when we were informed,” he added.

Officials with the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department overseeing the eviction drive told TNM that the case the locals are referring to was filed by commercial establishments seeking compensation over demolitions that will be undertaken as part of the Cooum river restoration. “The Madras High Court had stayed the eviction for two weeks due to this case but after that there was no resistance from the person who filed the complaint. They didn’t pursue the case further. So the allotment of houses to that lane was stopped briefly. There is no relation between the case and the ongoing resettlement drive. We haven’t finished allocating houses to all families, door-to-door verification is still ongoing,” an official said.

The official also said that not everyone in RK Nagar seeking a new home at KP Park is a genuine resident of the colony. “Some people are staying inside bathrooms where there is not even proper flooring and claim they have been living there for ages. How can someone live inside a bathroom for years? Some are trying to game the system and gain a new house,” the official said.

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