Forced eviction of 250 families along Chembarambakkam lake without any rehabilitation plan
These families, who claim to have purchased the land from a local politician, are now living in fear of losing their homes without an alternative.
Chennai: Over 250 families are left baffled about the security of their houses in Mangadu village, as the state Public Works Department (PWD) has issued a 21 days notice of eviction for illegally encroaching on the Thanthikal channel.
As of now, no rehabilitation measures or monetary compensation for resettlement have been negotiated, and the eviction drive is ready to begin soon.
Vinod Kumar, the Councillor of Selva Ganapathy Nagar, one of the colonies that have encroached upon the channel, says, "The people bought these houses from local politicians but without any official paperwork, so PWD sees them as encroachers."
He said that the government is planning to expand the channels by destroying the houses, which are mostly made of concrete, while some have tin roofs.
According to Kumar, in such circumstances, the government frequently provides an alternative property or dwelling, however, nothing has been stated in Mangadu's case.
Ravi Kumar, a resident of Selva Ganapathy Nagar, said, "I bought my house in Selva Ganapathy Nagar for Rs. 4 lakh in 2007. I don't have any legal declaration of owning the house as I bought it from a local leader with just cash."
These families have written to the Kancheepuram district collector’s office for help but have not received any response.
Kumar refused to specify the politician or the political party. One of his fellow residents, Govind Rajan said, "These politicians keep on changing parties based on who's in power. Now even though the PWD threatens to evict us, we can't go back to these leaders for help." Rajan has bought his house in 2000 for 1 lakh.
About 12 families live in Selva Ganapathy Nagar. Similarly, there are a total of 250 families in Srinivasa Nagar, Janani Nagar, Selva Ganapathy Nagar, Appavu Nagar, Om Sakthi Nagar, and Ambal Balaji Nagar in Mangadu expected to be evicted for illegally encroaching upon the channels.
Magesh, a local student who rents an apartment in an adjoining building, claims that her neighbors' future is uncertain. "There is a great deal of ambiguity. On the one hand, PWD has been given a time limit of 21 days. On the other hand, they claim they'll set a new date once they figure out what to do with this region," she said.
As of now, their fate remains uncertain.
According to a senior PWD official, the 7-kilometer-long Thanthikal, the main channel, and three branch canals were built 50 years ago along the Chembarambakkam Reservoir as a significant source for irrigation.
The illegal encroachment on these channels has contaminated the reservoir leading to the widespread growth of hyacinth. As was reported in 2017, most of the natural inlets of the reservoir have been contaminated with domestic sewage from surrounding houses and even small-scale industries.
Satellite images showed that hyacinth had covered the reservoir right in the middle for a radius of three kilometers.
When the city and its suburbs were lashed by heavy rain last month, these encroached sites had become inaccessible without a boat.