The authorities have been systematically carrying out evictions of those living on the banks of Adyar and Cooum rivers. As a part of the ongoing evictions, based on a report by the Chennai River Restoration Trust (CRRT), 387 families were resettled on Friday. So far, 5,383 encroachments have been removed.
On Friday, residents of Muthumariamman Koil had to shift to their new residences. About 231 families have been relocated to Navalur, while 156 families have been resettled in Thiruvottriyur. The residents, who had earlier put up a stiff resistance, are happy that they haven’t been sent to Perumbakkam. “We were adamant that we will not leave if we are allocated units in Perumbakkam. When the authorities offered to resettle us in Navalur, we agreed. The only problem will be employment, since many, like me, work here in Arumbakkam,” said Surya, who is the sole breadwinner for his family.
Malarvizhi, another resident, said that though they knew they were moving, they would have liked a little more time to shift their belongings.
While the informal settlements are being removed, many activists have questioned the presence of other buildings in the vicinity, which include a school building and the office of the District Environmental Engineer of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), which earlier housed the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) before it moved to the current premises at Kalas Mahal.
A senior official from TNPCB said, “The building is clear, it is not on the right of way. We have the documents to prove it.” A senior Corporation official too corroborated this, adding, “The boundary was drawn by the PWD and it excluded the TNPCB building, since it didn’t come within the perimeter of the river.” A CRRT official said that they are in the process of checking the legalities of the buildings, both commercial and governmental, which will be removed, if found flouting the right of way.