Kal­likup­pam evic­tion amidst protests

213 homes in Kal­likup­pam de­mol­ished as part of lake restora­tion project amid stiff op­po­si­tion

The New Indian Express - - FRONT PAGE -

IN a mas­sive crack­down, district au­thor­i­ties on Fri­day razed down 213 houses in Kal­likup­pam near Am­bat­tur, amidst stiff op­po­si­tion from res­i­dents, some of whom threat­ened to im­mo­late them­selves.

The au­thor­i­ties have enu­mer­ated a to­tal of 583 fam­i­lies, the re­main­ing of whom will be evicted in a few days as part of the restora­tion of the Ko­rat­tur lake.

Rev­enue and Pub­lic Works De­part­ment of­fi­cials launched the de­mo­li­tion drive early in the morn­ing and con­tin­ued till late in the evening with po­lice pro­tec­tion.

The res­i­dents, who claimed that they had not been given time to clear out their be­long­ings, were seen search­ing for their chil­dren’s school uni­forms, text­books and other im­por­tant doc­u­ments amidst the rub­ble, late into the night. Among the fam­i­lies in SS Na­gar, Muthamizh Na­gar, Gan­gai Na­gar and Moogam­bikai Na­gar which were evicted, and slated for evic­tion in the com­ing days, are around 500 school-go­ing chil­dren, they said.

“Could they not have waited un­til the aca­demic year is over? At the least, they could have given us a few hours to clear out our be­long­ings,” said Leelavathi, an elderly woman, whose house was also razed. She has been stay­ing in the house for the past 30 years. “We were given elec­tric­ity, wa­ter con­nec­tion, LED street-light­ing etc., by the govern­ment and now they come and de­mol­ish ev­ery­thing. How is it jus­ti­fied?,” she grieved, speaking to Ex­press.

He­ma­vathi, who at­tempted self­im­mo­la­tion along with her 10-month-old son and five-yearold daugh­ter, but was timely res­cued by other res­i­dents, said, “What has hap­pened to us is bar­baric. My fam­ily lost ev­ery­thing. I was with my 10-month-old son in the house when heavy ma­chin­ery was brought in. They didn’t even give me time to pick up the milk bot­tle to feed my son,” she al­leged, sit­ting qui­etly amidst the de­bris.

The res­i­dents un­der the ban­ner of Kal­likup­pam Gan­gai Na­gar Pothu Nala Sangam filed a writ pe­ti­tion in the Madras High Court on Fri­day, seek­ing in­junc­tion on evic­tion.

K Gopi, sangam pres­i­dent, told Ex­press that the High Court de­liv­ered an order in 2015, di­rect­ing the State govern­ment to ex­am­ine the pos­si­bil­ity of an in-situ re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, con­sid­er­ing the fact that these res­i­dents have been stay­ing for years and mak­ing a liveli­hood there and also con­sid­er­ing the chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion. How­ever, the res­i­dents have now been asked to shift to Perum­bakkam around 35 km from their set­tle­ment.

Lo­ganathan, a res­i­dent of Gan­gai Na­gar, whose house has been enu­mer­ated for de­mo­li­tion, said all the peo­ple had voter ID and ra­tion cards. “Though we don’t have patta, the govern­ment has cre­ated the basic in­fras­truc­ture and Am­bat­tur leg­is­la­tor Alexan­der promised that our houses would not be razed down. But, to­day with­out any no­tice, au­thor­i­ties have come and de­mol­ished close to 300 houses and used po­lice to in­tim­i­date us,” he al­leged.

Gnanasek­eran, 66, suf­fered a mild heart at­tack dur­ing evic­tion, but he was said to be out of dan­ger. His son Na­gen­dran told Ex­press that his father col­lapsed as their re­cently-ren­o­vated house was brought to the ground.

An­other al­le­ga­tion gen­er­ally aired was that the au­thor­i­ties had turned a blind eye to plush apart­ment com­plexes, schools and col­leges in the same vicin­ity.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to a Rev­enue de­part­ment of­fi­cial, since the res­i­dents re­sisted when the no­tices were be­ing is­sued, the of­fi­cials force­fully stuck the no­tices on each house, with po­lice pro­tec­tion. “We also have video proof. The no­tices were is­sued last month,” the of­fi­cial said, adding, “When we fixed dates for enu­mer­a­tion in a com­mu­nity hall, the res­i­dents re­fused to turn up,” he added.

My fam­ily lost ev­ery­thing. I was with my 10-month-old son in the house when heavy ma­chin­ery was brought in. They didn’t even give me time to pick up the milk bot­tle to feed my son He­ma­vathi

SHIBA PRASAD SAHU

He­ma­vathi, with her two chil­dren, near her de­mol­ished house |

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