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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.