The Hindu 12.09.2016
No slum notified in Chennai after 1985: Report
Despite hundreds of slums cropping up in the city, not a single slum has been officially recognised since 1985 by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board, said a report released by Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC).
After the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Act of 1971 was passed, around 1,202 slums in Chennai were recognised, and 17 more were added to the list in 1985. Most of the slums were improved in situ, either by building tenements or by providing basic services, as mandated in the Act.
However, not a single new slum has been officially recognised in the city since then. Experts claim that instead of providing decent housing, slum dwellers are being relocated to Perumbakkam, Ezhil Nagar and faraway places, where they end up losing their livelihood.
“The officials are ghettoising them instead of providing them a place nearby,” said G. Selva, of the CPI (M). “Children drop out of schools, men and women lose their jobs. Many end up doing antisocial activities to eke out a living,” he said.
Based on an analysis of the information available in the Slum Free Plan of Action of various districts in Tamil Nadu, the report revealed that many still remain non-notified across the State. No slum is notified under the Rajiv Awas Yojana in the Salem district. Out of the 100 slums surveyed in Thoothukudi, 87 remain non-notified.
An all-India survey conducted in 2012 by the National Sample Survey Office, stated that there were 2,364 slums with 5,88,611 households in urban areas of the State, out of which notified slums were 1,156 comprising of 2,45,089 households, constituting 49 per cent of the total slums.
In reply, the government stated that declaration of slums would only encourage slums dwellers to encroach vacant lands and claim rights over them, besides demanding basic services. Meagre allocation of funds by the State government for meeting the needs of slum dwellers was also cited as a reason for non-notification of slum areas.
“The unresolved issue that needs to be answered is that who is now responsible for declaration of slums. Is it the Urban Local Body or the TNSCB? As per the RTI response we received, the TNSCB is no longer declaring slums,” said Vanessa Peter, policy researcher, IRCDUC.
Work in progress
Officials from the Board said they were currently in the process of notifying slums in the city. “We began the process last year and it is in progress,” said a senior official from TNSCB.
About 51 per cent of slum dwellers in the city, according to the report, belonged to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Anbuselvam, Dalit scholar and activist, asks, “Why can’t the State not provide them a house near their place of livelihood and who is the beneficiary of the land, once they are evicted.” “Most of these people are underprivileged and marginalised; they must be helped, not thrown out,” he said.