Updated: August 20, 2021 6:40:46 pm
The families who were allotted flats of the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board at Kesava Pillai (KP) park in Pulianthope have been raising complaints about stability and quality of construction for the past few days.
Leaky ceilings, damaged staircases, cracks on the doors, faulty lifts, broken water pipes are among the many difficulties the residents claimed they are facing because of the alleged substandard structures constructed within the city limits.
Following complaints, Minister for Rural Industries and Slum Clearance Board Thamo Anbarasan and Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department PK Sekar Babu made an inspection on Wednesday.
Speaking to the reporters, Anbarasan said after reviewing the situation and based on the feedback from the authorities, they have decided to commence the repair works. He said they have also written to the Indian Institute of Technology to research and submit a report. “A team from IIT will Inspect the area in two-three days and if any defect is found in the construction of the building, departmental action will be initiated against the authorities concerned,” he said.
Sekar Babu said the government hasn’t provided permission for people to resettle here and people have shifted their base here on their own. He said after ensuring safety measures, they will be passing an announcement and further actions will be taken.
There are two clusters, one with 864 and another with 1,056 units Those who were already residing (fundamental inhabitants) were allotted flats at the former unit and others from Arumbakkam find themselves relocated at phase II.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Vanessa Peter, founder of the Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRDUC) said community consultation has not happened which could have averted the majority of these issues. “A committee comprising representatives of people who are residing in the tenements should be formed and a grievance mechanism should be in place especially for infrastructural issues,” she said.
Vanessa further said a technical report about the construction should be made open to the public.
“For the most vulnerable groups and the deprived urban communities in Tamil Nadu, access to information continues to remain a challenge. Discussions with communities reveal that they are often unaware of the various policy and programme decisions concerning them, because they are not included in any of the different stages of the decision-making process,” a statement from IRDUC read.
The IRDUC quoted the Government Order as saying that the beneficiaries contribution for in situ slum families/allotees of tenements taken up for construction is fixed as a minimum of Rs 1,50,000 for Affordable Housing Project schemes in Chennai.
In the statement, it was noted that that the discussion with families revealed that they came to know about such an order only after their houses were demolished for reconstruction. The statement added that certain families claim that they have already paid for the houses under the Hire Purchase scheme and they are questioning why they should pay again for the current housing scheme.
Sources said local MLAs have assured of arranging loans for the people to pay for the houses but the residents fear whether they would be able to pay the loan amount every month amid the ongoing pandemic where their livelihood had already taken a hit.
Meanwhile, the company behind the construction of KP Park tenements has denied the allegations that the buildings were constructed poorly. A local channel which put out the statement issued by the company read that the construction was completed after the approval of TNSCB and Anna University’s Department of Structural Engineering conducted research on the structural design.
They had claimed that the houses that were not allocated to the beneficiaries even after two years after the construction and further they were converted into a Covid-19 healthcare centre by the Chennai Corporation and during that period, the staircases were used to bring in machines and other logistic items which had caused damage to the building. The company had also claimed that people who were earlier residing in the area and not provided allotment till date, had ransacked the place in anger causing damage to many items.
The issue was taken up by many political parties as well. Actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam leader Kamal Haasan took to Twitter and said the contractor must be held accountable. He said the buildings must be demolished and constructed by the contractor with his own money. He also said the government should monitor the quality of the construction.
On Thursday, CPI(M) state secretary K Balakrishnan visited the area alongside other party functionaries. He asked the previous AIADMK government why the tender was awarded at an additional price and urged Chief Minister M K Stalin to order a probe into the alleged irregularities in the construction of the building.
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