Around 300 illegal houses on rent in Foreshore Estate
If you come across asbestos-roofed pucca houses by the Bay of Bengal at Srinivasapuram in Foreshore Estate with a ‘to-let’ sign outside it, do not mistake it for a ramshackle cottage promoting high-end austerity tourism (also known as no-WiFi-no-phone vacation among the affluent).
These are illegal structures built on the vacant sands of the shore by encroachers, who, in the absence of enforcement, are letting them out.
Around 300 such structures have been built on the shore and along the Adyar creek. Another one is coming up in the area. These structures are built of hollow concrete blocks and roofed with asbestos or tin.
“These houses fetch up to `4,000 as rent,” said K Saravanan of Coastal Resources Centre. “The government has allowed traditional fishermen to build houses near the shore. But the site should not fall in the high tide line or on the edges of the creek. The fishermen have to obtain permission from authorities concerned. Otherwise, the structure will become illegal,” he said.
Occupants of one house identified themselves as “workers from northern India”. A woman in the locality said owners of these illegal houses lived elsewhere.
Environmentalists said illegal construction had been rampant on the shore at Srinivasapuram. An official from the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) said the area surrounding the tenements, which has a border along the creek, fall under its jurisdiction. But the remaining part of the land, where the houses have come up, is under Greater Chennai Corporation.
The official said in the past 25 years, nearly 2,500 illegal structures have come up in and around the tenements. Attempts to stop construction of such illegal structures proved futile as the violators, backed by local politicians, resisted.
Civic body officials said the public works department (PWD) controlled the area and they could initiate action against the violators. A senior engineer from PWD said the agency had received complaints about construction of illegal structures in Srinivasapuram.
“Already the department has cleared thousands of such illegal structures that have been constructed on the banks of different water bodies in and around the city. We will take action,” the official said.