Homeless in Chennai form an association

When ever I visit Satyam Cineplex to watch a movie, I always park my bike below the flyover, opposite Southern Motors office complex. If its an evening or night show, when I return from the movie invariably, there will a family sleeping there, usually under a tricycle, they are clearly homeless.

Chennai according to an NGO has estimates there are roughly 40,500 homeless people in the city, comprising 11,000 families. The NGO has brought this population together and formed another Sangam called Engal Chennai Pavement Dwellers Federation. The association aims to bring the homeless dwellers together and voice their concerns.

The Hindu reports on the purpose of the federation and its motive

It will attempt to make people aware of their rights and get them to utilize those government schemes available to them. The Federation would agitate for the right to shelter and changes in governmental policy.

The homeless are at the bottom of the pyramid and are engaged in menial jobs. They are migrants from villages, in search of better economic opportunities. I don’t see why a city should absorb these migrants and provide them facilities. A city should actually be focusing on these people can be encouraged to return to their villages. The problem if these people are given permanent shelters is that they will have a tendency to settle down in the city, which will eventually lead to overcrowding in the city. I do agree the migrant population (who constitute the homeless in Chennai) contribute to the city, and perform various vital jobs in the city, but their employment is seasonal and they shouldn’t be encouraged to settle down in the city.

3 Comments so far

  1. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on September 11th, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

    Having turned on the Tv to watch some music the other morning I sat on afterwards and watched a program about the pavement dwellers of Georgetown.

    Some of these many thousands of people have been there for generations! They are far from all being migrants, and even some of the migrants have been there a long time. One woman came on a trip to Chennai with a friend, got separated and lost –and is still there, now with a family, many years later.

    On story told —you guys can probably fill in the history; I forget the dates and names— was the support prommissed by a political party. At that time many of these poeple had brick houses. The bulldozers arrived the day after the elections.

    On a trip to Parry’s last week, I hardly noticed a pile of stuff with a cloth over the top, If I had thought about it I would have assumed it was a rubbish pile, perhaps. My wife pointed out, ‘that program you were watching; that is a pavement family’s home…’

    For these people to stay/return to their villages… that will take a government that is more interested in India’s rural hundreds of millions than in its thousands of software developers and call-centre workers.

    But, more than that… don’t cities have their very origin in rural migration?

    It is not a case of whether they are encouraged: they are here. It is their home just as much as it is yours or …err, actually a damn sight more than it is mine.

  2. SLN (unregistered) on September 12th, 2006 @ 1:03 am

    We should send the hut dwellers too back to villages. What about other migrants, wouldn’t it be better to send all so that there will never be any overcrowding in Chennai. Maybe we can retain the rich migrants as they bring in moolah to the city and drive out only the poor. We can even have our internal H1B / Work permit system where only the skilled / employable people can settle in Chennai so others dont settle in pavements and riverside slums.

    Also let us know the cut-off year for deciding who is a native and who is a migrant. You can take Bal Thackeray’s help (looks like you might have already) as he fixed 1995 as the cut-off year in Mumbai for driving out poor migrants of UP and Bihar

    It is very obvious that no-one would like to settle in the streets or by the stinking Cooum / Adyar if only they had even a basic livelihood in their villages. Unless that aspect is taken care, no amount of discouragement / punishments can prevent migrants from moving to places of opportunity, whether it is Chennai, Bangalore or
    US /Europe


  3. R Anu Ramya (unregistered) on September 28th, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

    Oh Please …

    Who are you to say that they should be chased out … If u take a census half the population in chennai are from outside.. do you wish to return to the years of chennai pattinam which had only fort george , triplicane , parrys and mylapore???

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