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Nochi Nagar residents left without a roof over their heads
After witnessing the demolition of the temporary settlements in Nochi Nagar, which they called home, right before their eyes, more than a hundred families have nowhere to go, as no alternative arrangement were made for their accommodation.
The temporary settlements in Nochi Nagar housed the people affected by the 2004 tsunami, who have been living in these structures for more than a decade now. These temporary shanties were divided into three zones, said an official from the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB). All the 195 houses in the first zone were demolished, while 545 out of 1,037 houses in the second zone were razed. In the third zone, 936 houses would be demolished, according to the official.
While many of these families have been allocated housing units under the Tsunami Relief Project in Nochi Nagar, 150 families were left out without houses despite receiving allocations.
What angered the residents was that there were no alternative arrangements made for their accommodation, even as their temporary dwellings were razed, which they stood by and watched forlornly. “The officials might think of it as temporary. But for us, it is home as we have been living here for more than a decade now,” rued S Sadasivan, a resident, who added that the families were initially promised housing in Nochi Nagar TNSCB tenements. “We have stayed in this locality for more than 40 years, out of which around 10 was in those temporary shelters,” Sadasivan pointed out.
The residents, who have been left high and dry by the alleged callousness of the officials, have been scrambling to find a relative who would shelter them temporarily. “Our lives are in these ‘temporary houses’. It is where our children grow up, go to school. We cannot afford rent because we work as daily wage labourers,” said Amutha M, another affected resident.
The TNSCB officials said that the plan is to build a structure that can accommodate them at the same location – known as in situ. “But the project is in its initial stage and will take at least 18 months for completion. The residents should make their own arrangements,” added the official.
Residents of NTO Kuppam, who were evicted while their housing units were under construction, were offered Rs 25,000 per family to find temporary housing. But for residents of Nochi Nagar, there is no respite as they have been left without a roof over their heads.