Displaced and denied: How slum dwellers are socially, economically quarantined

Slum demolition at Thideer Nagar
For most of the residents in slum sites in Chennai, relocation has meant shortage of facilities in addition to risk of losing livelihood options

Jansi, a single parent in Perumbakkam resettlement site, has not been to work for more than a year now. One of the thousands of people to be shifted by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board two years ago from Thideer Nagar in Thousand Lights in the heart of Chennai, she continued to work as a housekeeping staff in an office in Royapettah, about 30 km away from her new home.

“I have not been able to work (since the past one year) because of the distance. I have two young kids, aged seven and nine, and I only have my mother to take care of them. I endured the long commute, switching 2–3 buses for almost a year, but finally gave up because it was too tiring.”

Jansi and others were shifted en masse in November 2017 from their homes, as they were blamed for floods and encroachments along water bodies, given their proximity to the Cooum River.

Jansi is still looking for a job. “I am not able to find one in the vicinity. I am considering small-scale entrepreneurship opportunities, but there aren’t many options. The Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board organised tailoring and jewellery-making classes for women in the locality through an NGO. However, we need help from them for marketing these products.”

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