You are here

Preventing Mass Evictions along the Cooum

The primary aim of this project is to support the civil society movement, Right to the City: Chennai For All, in advocating for a more humane approach to the residents of settlements along the Cooum river under the Cooum River Eco-Restoration Project being implemented by the government by the nodal agency, Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust.

During the 2014 -15 state budget, the Cooum River Restoration Project was announced with a total cost of Rs. 3,833.62 crore. Rs. 2,077.29 crore of this was allocated for the relocation of affected families to the fringes of the city into ghetto-like resettlement colonies. As per the Executive Summary of the “Cooum River Eco-Restoration Plan” dated November 2014, the total number of families to be affected is 14,500 families across 58 slums, but the actual number is likely to be much higher than this. All these families are going to be uprooted and relocated to multi-storied tenements in resettlement colonies at Perumbakkam and Ezhil Nagar built with central government funding under the JNNURM on the outskirts of the city. The project is being envisaged as an urban renewal project aimed at making Chennai a world-class city. The riverbank must be “cleaned,” and slums dwellers are unfairly blamed for all the pollution when untreated sewage is in reality flowing into the river from many points, including office buildings, hotels, apartment complexes, and even from malfunctioning sewage treatment plants operated by Metrowater.

Approach: 

We are working with a two-pronged strategy. First, we are collecting evidence of the actual polluters of the river, primarily the Corporation and MetroWater who are responsible for the solid waste and sewage that is dumped in the river. This is to show that the slum dwellers are not the primary cause of the river’s polluted state and to make a case against relocation and in favour of in-situ development and/or reconstruction. The second is to build awareness amongst slum dwellers who are going to be affected by it about the project plan and what it means for them. This project is part of our work for the Right to City Movement, under which several community based organisations, community leaders, activists, and academics are working together for the goal of claiming the city for its people. We are also curating a photo exhibition, and supporting RTC members in representing slum dwellers before the National Green Tribunal in a public interest case on pollution in the Cooum.

Outcomes: 

We hope to impact the river restoration project to be more inclusive, and for it to be more transparent and accountable to the people who it will impact the most. At a larger scale, we hope to influence government policy on slums and informal settlements to be more sensitive to the impacts of resettlement on the poor, and to move away from resettlement in large far-away colonies and towards in-situ slum redevelopment/reconstruction.

TN Slum Clearance Board and its projects through the lens of CAG’s audit report – Part III

TNSCB floundering to implement in-situ project A view of the dilapidated TNSCB tenement, Nochikuppam. Photo Courtesy: The Hindu In my previous blog post, I explained through the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s (CAG) audit report, how the TNSCB constructed the Perumbakkam resettlement tenements throwing to wind the NBC norms with scant regard for people’s life. In this...know more

Another Day at the NGT: Hearing of the Cooum River Eco-restoration Project Case (November 18th 2015)

As the community outreach team at CAG is closely following the developments related to the Cooum River Eco-restoration project, the team attended another hearing of the case related to the project at the southern bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Chennai on 18th November 2015. The counsels of the petitioner, the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT), the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control...know more

When the Poor Have No Voice: A Brief Summary of the Hearing at the National Green Tribunal in a Case Related to the Cooum Restoration (September 2015)

The community outreach team at CAG recently learnt about the Government’s plan to evict 14,200 households from 58 slums located on the Cooum river banks in the guise of the Cooum River Eco-restoration Project. After a thorough perusal of the project documentation, we see it as a plan not to clean the waterway but as an excuse to raze the slums and develop the riverfront. We started collecting...know more

Brief on the Executive Summary of the Integrated Cooum River Eco-Restoration Plan (November 2014)

A synopsis of the Executive Summary of Cooum River Eco-restoration project plan of CRRTknow more

Brief on the Executive Summary of the Integrated Cooum River Eco-Restoration Plan (November 2014) - Tamil

A synopsis of the Executive Summary of Cooum River Eco-restoration project plan of CRRTknow more

An Assessment of Infrastructure and Access to Services at Ezhil Nagar, a newly constructed neighbourhood in the Kannagi Nagar resettlement colony (May 2015, updated October 2015)

A two pager of the fact finding exercise conducted by Transparent Cities Network in Ezhil Nagar in May and October 2015 to assess the infrastructure and other facilities created in the resettlement colonyknow more

An Assessment of Infrastructure and Access to Services at Ezhil Nagar, a newly constructed neighbourhood in the Kannagi Nagar resettlement colony (May 2015, updated October 2015) - Tamil

A two pager of the fact finding exercise conducted by Transparent Cities Network in Ezhil Nagar in May and updated in October 2015 to assess the infrastructure and other facilities created in the resettlement colonyknow more

An Appraisal of the TNSCB Resettlement Colony at Perumbakkam (October 2015)

A two pager of the fact finding exercise conducted by Transparent Cities Network at Perumbakkam in October 2015 to assess the infrastructure and other facilities created in the resettlement colonyknow more