Slums demolished in Govindasamy Nagar in Chennai, man sets himself ablaze to protest

Reported by

Hariprasad Radhakrishnan

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Updated on

June 23, 2022

Location of Conflict

Govindasamy Nagar

Chennai

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Other Kind of Land Use

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

259

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

ha

Starting Year

2006

State

Tamil Nadu

Sector

Land Use

On May 8, 2022, VG Kannaiyan, a 58-year-old resident of Govindasamy Nagar in Chennai, immolated himself to protest the eviction drive being carried out in his locality. He died the following day. His suicide has brought attention to ongoing eviction drives in Tamil Nadu. Officials of the Water Resource Department (WRD) and Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board (TNUHDB) began the eviction drive in the area on April 29, 2022. Residents said they have been living on Elango street in Govindasamy Nagar since the past four decades and even possess identity cards issued by the state government. They cited a government order to allege that their slum had been declared a notified slum back in 1973. They have even sought pattas (house rights) for their settlements on the basis of that order.

Residents were asked to move to alternative accommodations given to them in far away places like Navalur, Perumbakkam, Ezhil Nagar and Kannagi Nagar. Refusing to move to those places, residents complained the allotments provided to them in Perumbakkam lacked basic amenities.
The conflict over Govindasamy Nagar started in 2006 when Rajiv Rai, a local businessman filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court seeking the eviction of the colony's residents. The businessman filed this petition allegedly to facilitate the widening of access road for his property and increase its real estate value. His property lies adjacent to the residents' colony. The Madras High Court declared the residents of Govindasamy Nagar as encroachers and ordered their removal in 2006. However, there was a delay in the execution of the order. In 2008, Rai filed another petition in the High Court seeking the removal of the colony in a time bound manner. The High Court's verdict was in favour of Rai. Following this, residents filed an appeal against the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court. In 2011, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the High Court's decision and directed that the encroachers be provided alternative accommodation.

In 2014, the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board carried out a survey and identified 366 encroachers and removed them. Rai approached the SC again in 2015 with a petition alleging contempt of court's orders as the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board did not clear all encroachers, which according to him were 625 and included the residents living on Elango street. Residents of Govindasamy Nagar came to know of these verdicts only in 2015 when Chennai district administrative officials visited the area to carry out the survey prior the eviction. The residents approached the SC in 2017 with an application to become a party to the case seeking their eviction. SC dismissed their application but gave them the liberty to approach the Madras High Court to prove that they were not encroachers.

In 2018, the Madras High Court ordered the eviction of residents of the slum in Elango street, along with the provisioning of alternative accommodation to them. The deadline for moving to those accommodations was extended till mid June. In April 2022, Chennai administrative officials implemented the court order by demolishing houses. The residents of the colony approached the SC with a plea to halt the demolitions, but their application was rejected. This decision was issued a day after Kannaiyan's death, the resident who set himself ablaze to protest the evictions.

Following the Kanniyan's suicide, Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister M. K. Stalin announced that the evicted residents would be rehabilitated in Mandaveli and Mylapore within the city, as opposed to the earlier plan of shifting them to the outskirts. Speaking in the Assembly, Stalin also said that a new resettlement policy that covers all aspects of people's welfare will be drafted soon and people will henceforth be moved out only after all basic facilities are ensured at resettlement sites. It may be noted that the State government is yet to finalise its draft of the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, released in October 2021,

R Geetha, of Pennurimai Iyakkam, an organisation that provides legal aid to the residents, told LCW that despite Stalin's announcement, the Collector has been saying that the residents would be evicted and resettled in Perumbakkam. "The government's affidavit also mentioned Perumbakkam and not Mylapore or Mandaveli. The entire problem can be avoided if the government stopped lying," she said. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this matter further in July 2022.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand for rehabilitation

Complaint against procedural violations

Refusal to give up land for the project

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Tamil Nadu Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act, 1971
Section 2(k) [Slum area defined to be an area so declared under Section 3(1)], Section 3(1) [Criteria under which State Government may declare an area as slum area] Section 11 [State Government may declare an area as a slum clearance area based on report from the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board by notification. Such notification to allow land owners in such slum area to show cause and make objections.], Section 12 [Where an area has been declared as a slum clearance area, land owners of the area to clear before expiration of time period as prescribed], Section 13 [Government authority to have power to demolish buildings to clear area], Chapter VI [Provisions relating to power of State Government to acquire land in relation to slum areas. Such acquisition must be preceded by a notice to affected persons. Land owners to be compensated for acquisition of land.] Chapter VII [Provisions relating to protection of occupants in slum areas from eviction.] Section 57 [Power of government authority to evict occupants from a building based on the representation from the owner of a building or information based on notice issued by owner]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Non-consultation with stakeholders

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Violation of free prior informed consent

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Supreme Court and Madras High Court

Case Number

W.P.No.31114 of 2017 [Madras High Court], Contempt Petition (C) 844-846/2015 [Supreme Court]

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

On February 19, 2018, the Madras High Court stated that the 259 persons who were allowed land by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board are encroachers. The court noted in detail that some of the slum dwellers had approached the Court selectively. Referring to T.K. Shanmugam v. State of Tamil Nadu and others (WP 1294 of 2009), the Court recounted the importance of the State removing encroachments from water bodies. The Court allowed the Petitioners to take the option of the alternative site provided by the Slum Clearance Board. If no consent was given by any of the encroachers, the Government was directed to allot site to some other person based on their seniority and the petitioners would have not have an option to plead. The Contempt Petition filed by Rajiv Rai against the State Government for not carrying out the directions of the Supreme Court is still ongoing. On May 10, 2022, the Court noted that the state government ought to have finished the process of evictions long back. The Court noted that most of the applicants had accepted alternative allotment and that their apprehensions of not having electricity or water supply was misplaced. In case of any deficiency, the Court directed applicants to lodge a complaint to the concerned Collector or Chief Executive Officer/ Commissioner of local body. Reference was made to a statement by the Chief Minister in the Assembly of the good transport facilities and other basic amenities. The matter is slated to be heard on July 12, 2022.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Self-immolation/suicide

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

VG Kannaiyan, a 58-year-old resident of Govindasamy Nagar, immolated himself to protest the eviction.

Date of Violation

May 7, 2022

Location of Violation

Govindasamy Nagar

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Suicide/attempt at suicide

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board, Greater Chennai Corporation, Chennai District Administration, Water Resources Department, Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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