“Our people don’t want to go to relief centres due to fear of relocation once the rain stops. I tried talking to some, but in vain. Instead of going to the camps, they took shelter under the sun shades of shops and buildings,” said K Sarasa, a roadside dweller in Broadway area who had recently unsuccessfully approached the National Commission for Scheduled Castes seeking permanent houses.
Sarasa lamented that several families were living on the roads for decades but the government refuses to allocate houses built by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board. “Providing us houses is the only permanent solution. Or else, we will continue to suffer,” she said.
Vanessa Peter, policy researcher from Information and Resource Center for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC) who is working closely with the homeless, said the Corporation should convince and take them to the relief camps.
“There is no proper plan to handle homeless families during the time of a disaster. Also, there is a communication gap between the homeless and the Corporation. The officials should visit them and provide details and addresses of the relief camps,” she added. Meanwhile, a Corporation official overseeing the rescue of homeless persons said the civic body was rescuing homeless persons by constituting teams.
“The teams are convincing the homeless persons about safety at the relief camps. While individual homeless persons are sent to the night shelters, those living as families are being sent to the relief camps. We are taking the families who agree to come to relief centres. But, we could not convince many,” the official said.
On Wednesday, Corporation teams rescued 216 homeless persons, and sent them to night shelters.