Over 250 people who used to reside in the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board blocks in Valleeswaran Thottam in R. A. Puram gathered on Wednesday at the gate of the campus where re-development is taking place to launch a protest for what they say is the very long delay in handing over the newly- built flats to them.
When the nearly 600 families vacated the old flats in late 2019, they were promised the new housing in 18 months but they are yet to be given admission to the new spaces.
Just as the community began to gather for the protest, senior engineers of the TN Urban Habitat Development Board landed at the site and spoke to the community. The engineers have promised to hand over the flats in November. The community has held similar protests in the recent past and promises were made but were not honoured.
Though work by the private contractor began at a good pace on the new flats, the pandemic forced a long suspension of work here. But after work was re-started, it was slow and carried out in parts and this began to frustrate families who had lived here and now paid rents as much as Rs.10,000 and Rs.15,000 to reside in small spaces in the same zone.
One resident said that what is left to be done is to provide water, sewage and power supply connections to all the flats.
Many families are said to be living on borrowed money the past few years because they cannot afford to pay the rents and care for their families. They were all given a one-time amount of Rs.8,000 towards shifting.
According to the agreement between the Board and the families, they will have to pay Rs.1.5 lakh, in instalments once the new flats are handed over.
But community leaders say that they have asked the Board to waive this payment because of the huge delay in granting the new flats and the huge financial burdens they have endured this far.
There used to be about 580 families living in 15 blocks in this campus that is located off Kamaraj Salai in R. A. Puram. In the redeveloped space, about 630 flats have been built in three blocks, which have 9 / 11 floors and 12 lifts to service them.
Public lighting, park / public space development and installation of all the lifts is yet to take place on this campus