Residents of Valleeswaran Thottam in Chennai await a new home

The residents of the Tamilnadu Slum Clearance Board apartments in Valleeswaran Thottam, RA Puram are heaving a sigh of relief as the government has issued orders to build a new complex for them in the same place where they live by demolishing the old building.

The slum clearance housing board apartment was constructed more than 35 years ago and the building has gone weak and people living there are continuing to face a lot of problems because of it.

Speaking about it, Mahesh, a member of the Valleeswaran Thottam Slum Clearance Board Residents Welfare Aassociation says, “Generally all the Slum Clearance Board apartments have a lifetime of only 30 years. This complex has gone beyond that and over the last few years, residents living here have faced numerous problems so we formed the welfare association only recently and voiced our concern first to the local Municipality in 2016.¬†Soon after that in some houses, part of the ceiling began to crack and during rain, it would leak making it not suitable to live here. It was only in 2018 that the government proposed to build a new complex here and recently the soil test also happened. We hope that the construction starts soon.”

There are totally 560 houses in the complex that has 15 blocks. “All the houses have an area of only 200 square feet and with the ceiling in most of the roofs cracked, people can’t even sleep peacefully and whenever it rains, the walls will get wet and the water-level in the toilets too rises. Recently, after the government’s order, a survey was carried out in the complex and it was deemed not suitable to live. So the people are living here only with the hope that they get new homes soon. Also it has been said the size of each house will be 400 sq.ft.”

Mohan, the treasurer of the residents association, says that nothing is clear about the place where they will live temporarily. “Most of the residents here have jobs around the locality and if we are asked to stay in some far off place during the construction then that too will become a problem.”

Some residents, however, feel that the government is continuing to elude the construction of new houses. “It has been more than six months since we were assured of new houses. No maintenance work has been done after that here and we continue to live in fear as to when the ceiling would fall as the building is in a dilapidated condition. Recently too, the parapet wall in the balcony fell when some children were playing downstairs. Luckily no one was injured but many residents have vacated the place in fear. We want the work to start soon,” said Babu, a resident.