How to house the urban poor?

If ever a place could be damned by its name, it is this; Thideer Nagar.

The Tamil word Thideer means sudden. And Chennai is full of these so-called sudden Nagars (a Nagar is an area or colony of people, ranging from official (the area offiially called Thideer Nagar in Saidapet) to several settlements that are informally called Thideer Nagar.

In one of these areas, **** who runs a small grocery store narrates a tale: Apparently **** cannot get a ration card that will make him eligible for subsidised provisions because he lives in an informal settlement on land belonging to somebody else and that is not sufficient as an address proof.

But he can–and did–get a voters card using that same address.

***’s story in many ways symbolizes India’s slums.

Karen Coelho, an associate professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, or MIDS, said “Thesolution (to the problem of housing urban poor) lies in the policy. The statemust house the urban poor through in-situ redevelopment and up gradation in away that causes least damage to livelihoods”, she says.

“Thearguments (with respect to relocation of slum dwellers) are based on claims madeon history, social justice and inclusive development. The problem is that thesemoral claims are not legal claims”, she said.

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