A state wide yatra organized by Tamil Nadu Agricultural Workers Union affiliated to AITUC has demanded housing right for all including patta of 10 cents, Rs 3 lakh assistance for construction of houses. The yatra from March 16 to March 21 was started simultaneously in several districts and would perform street corner meetings, public meetings and rally in different parts of the state according to the organizers. Speaking at the occasion of the yatra public meeting at Tambaram on March 16th, Comrade Ellappan, District Secretary of Agricultural Workers Union said that the yatra from March 16th to March 18th would cover various towns and villages in Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur District over the three days. Similar yatras were being started over in 20 districts and would cover all the districts of the state he said.
Flagging off the yatra, Ms. Waheeda, National Secretary of AITUC said that food, shelter and clothing are fundamental needs and constitutional rights and the state has a responsibility to ensure these needs for the working class. “There is lots of frustration among people due to rising unemployment, food insecurity and land alienation policies. This yatra is to generate awareness and foster a platform to channel these frustrations into a legitimate fight for these rights” Comrade Waheeda said.
Garlanding the statue of Jeeva on the eve of the yatra, Comrade Ravi, General Secretary of Tamil Nadu AITUC Kattida Thozhilalar Sangam said that more than 30% of the families in Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur Districts do not have pattas to their own houses. Chiding the Governments for having failed to guarantee such a basic right even after 65 years of Independence, he said that the demand is for pattas to existing houses and an assistance of Rs 3 lakh for constructing pakka houses. “The row houses constructed under Indira Awaas Yojana were constructed poorly through contractors and have already gone to a debilitated state and need to be repaired” said Comrade Ravi asking for reparation assistance for these houses.
“Lakhs of people live in Temple land and have been termed as tenants under the unconstitutional Tenancy Act. We demand that the temples are given alternate financial assistance and the land are redistributed to the poor” said Ravi. He deplored the ongoing slum evictions in Chennai and other parts of the country saying that “poor citizens of the country are termed as encroachers on par with China, Pakistan and Srilanka (who are also stated as encroachers by the Government) and in the case of poor, the Government continues to evict them. Is this Justice?” He demanded in-situ construction of houses for slum dwellers and rehabilitation only when necessary.
The campaign is collecting 1 crore signatures on the yatra and a major rally is planned in Chennai on April 2nd to highlight the demand for housing rights for poor.