Demonstration by CPIM Chepauk Committee at Chepauk
4th October Friday
Slum Dwellers residing along Buckingham Canal came together to protest against eviction in the name of city improvement. They claimed that they faced an imminent threat of eviction to chemencherry and perumbakkam and wanted to register clearly and forcefully their opposition to this move. Over 100 residents primarily women from Neduchziyan Nagar, Gandhi nagar, Hanumantha puram, locke nagar and others along the buckingham canal gathered near the Chepauk Cricket stadium demanding that the government give up its intention to evict them and to build tenements at the very place they are presently residing or close by.
Talking to the Media, Com. Baghiyam, Secretary, South Chennai District Committee of CPI(M) categorically opposed eviction of the slum dwellers from the citty and insisted that Central and State government’s give up the tacit attempts to evict slums in the name of redevelopment. He maintained that the families living here for generations had a right to stay here and that the government proceed to build multistorey tenements within nearby area.
The workers said that they had come here to the protest primarily to voice their opposition against evictions. They had been recently enumerated by field staff from slumboard and had been issued tokens and they were unsure whether they would be evicted from here. Speaking to TK, Ms Sangeetha, a domestic workers from slums behind victoria hostel said that they had visited these relocation sites in kannagi nagar and know that it is the worst life there, “We need work, we need hospitals and schools for our children, if we cant work we cannot survive and there are no jobs there. people have to commute to the city to find jobs and it is very costly. So we don’t want to move of this place”. she added “”There are golf courses and horse riding tracks in the city for many acres, right opposite is a large stadium where people gamble in the name of sport, why cant we stay here if all this can be in the city. What is wrong if the government gives the Race course in guindy for housing and move the race course to a distant place. the rich people who gamble can go there, while we can live where our work is”.
Ms Shanthi from Booth Perumal Koil street near Mount Road said that it was no justice that only the reach who can access all facilities can live in cities, while the poor have to go far away where there is no hospitals, schools or jobs. “Schools are very important to us, we can’t let our children suffer like us, we ask the government to build tenements in the same area and we are ready to relocate”.
Com. Prince Ganjendran said that the government deceived the people. “They said we want to make chennai, like Singapore. We thought it to be a good thing, but what they want is for chennai to become a big shopping mall, They want to throw us out and construct malls and commercial centers. Why should we give up our livelihoods for such a scheme? This is an attempt to steel our food, to destroy our education and health and CPIM will oppose it with all force
Com. Chintan, secretary of Triplicane Unit of CPIM, presiding over the demonstration, likened this move to be a new form of untouchability and said that in the era of constitutional rights, Protection of civil rights ace, and untouchability eradication act, the government is perpetuating this crime. Com. Selva, member of district committee, citing recent protests in Tamabaram, warned the government that if they remain recalcitrant to the people and think we will submit, the protest will grow in ferocity and they will be forced to submit.
Com. Soundarajan, MLA from perumbur could not attend. It was interesting to note that in a demonstation with large number of women participatant, no single women or resident of the area addressed the gathering. The demonstration wound up after powerful sloganeering accusing the government of betrayal and demanding that it care for the people and not for commercial and gambling interests. A petition was presented to the Cheif Minister, through the CM Cell, outlining their grievance against eviction and demanding that such measures are not taken and good housing is provided for the people in-situ.