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Tamil Nadu: In India’s Chennai, River Restoration Lands Hardest on the Poor July 29,2020   |  Source: UN Dark

Construction materials line the first floor of buildings, and bulldozers roll through the wide and dusty streets. Vijay Vasanth says he arrived here in early January on government provided transport. His family and their belongings were left on the sidewalk in the middle of the settlement, named Perumbakkam. “When we came here, we had to be homeless.” Vasanth said, “They just lifted us and dropped us here, now we have to stay.”

Vasanth says he grew up in the heart of Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, in a neighborhood alongside the Cooum River called Sathyavani Muthu Nagar. But in late 2019, officials evicted 500 families living there, Vasanth included, without initially informing residents why they were evicted or where they were going. They were the first batch of 2,092 families set to be evicted. “They started marking our houses by writing letters and numbers on the door,” said Vasanth. He asked why and was told it was because his house was along the river. The markings on the door were to tell the families their house was set for demolition.

The families — like tens of thousands of families before them — were moved to settlement colonies like this one, miles from the city center and far from the sources of work and income that they once

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