Cooum bank dwellers stay put

Kathelene Reena

Chennai, November 3: Slum dwellers along the Cooum River are hesitant to move to safer locations with the North Eastern Monsoon lashing the city as they would be far removed from their places of livelihood.

Residents of Thideer Nagar along Greams Road were asked to pack all their belongings and move to escape the swelling Cooum River early Monday morning. Unprepared, they requested officials to postpone the shifting.


“Our children have exams going on. Even though schools might not be open now, we cannot move 30-35 km away,” said Manoranjanamma, a resident. This area was given to them 25 years ago, by the then government after their kaccha houses burned down in a fire.

The residents know the risk of living by the river but do not want to let go.

“We all want a better life but everything we know is here,” said Manoranjanamma.

“The Government Hospital is right here, the Corporation baby hospital is also here. Young women here have 3-4 young children within the first few years of marriage, and then our lives run between schools, shops and hospitals,” she added.

Residents at Thideer Nagar, Pallava Nagar or any of the 58 settlements along the Cooum seem contented with life along the river.


“We are trying to make ends meet. The tiffin shop sells food for less than Rs. 5, and those that cannot afford to cook can buy here. But if you go out, it will cost over Rs. 50,” said Ranjana Govind, who has been living there for 13 years and sells cut fruit to make a living.

“All the men here are drunkards. They will drink away three-fourths of their salaries. The women sell food, fruit, or stitch clothes. Some are work as domestic help,” she says.

The slum dwellers said that the government was only bent on beautifying the city and showed no concern for the poor.

“They have built this big MRTS Station over here spending crores. Instead, if they gave us four walls, we would live a decent life,” said Kicha Balakrishna, a resident.

Photo credits: Kathelene Antony

The Chennai Corporation officials tell a different story.

“These people will come and cry to us after their houses flood but now they do not want to move,” said Samuel A, a Corporation employee. “They keep asking for housing there but that is just not practical,” he added.

“The dwellers at Thideer Nagar are only being moved to avoid the ill effects of the rain. Permanent tenements in Ambattur and Perumbakkam have been allotted and construction is under way. The Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) is working hard to get it done before things get worse,” he said.

People living along the Cooum bank in WHERE? were relocated to ….DESCRIBE THE VIDEO HERE