Amid the hustle and bustle, a 23-year-old B.Com graduate from Hindu College, Chennai, runs a nameless pan shop. ‘Nameless because everything in Thideer is illegal’, he said.
Since two years, the young residents of Thideer Nagar have been denied access to ration cards as the government official’s claim that the addresses in Thideer Nagar are invalid. Although, for the same invalid addresses, voter cards have been generated. “We exist only to vote,” Karunakaran said.
“This is an irony but that’s how the world works and we are just political puppets,” he said, adding that most of them do considerably well without ration cards.
Karunakaran has lived in Thideer Nagar since his birth. He stays in a storey building which is approximately the same height as the tangled transformer next to their house. He lives with his elder brother and mother.
Most of the land in Thideer Nagar is owned by PWD and the Kapaleeshwar temple. Karan is well aware that the 5000 people living in Thideer shouldn’t be there. ‘The government can ask us to vacate any time. Even if they ask us to leave now, we will’, he said.
‘I am currently searching for a place in Mylapore’, he said.
The State Government has offered the residents here, apartments in Kannagi Nagar. Last year around 100 families were sent there. But Karunakaran doesn’t want to go there as it is too far. ‘Most of the residents here don’t want to go there because we have all set up our businesses here. Businesses that are illegal but earn us good money. Now, if we go there, we’ll have to start from scratch which is extremely difficult,” he explained.
Dhanalakshmi (48), Karunakaran’s mother, said that Thideer nagar is a peaceful pace. “There is no violence, communal issues and any sort of other crimes. We are at a walking distance from the local train station and bus station,” she said. She also added that during rains there is no sewage problem as everything flows into the river.