Monday, December 3, 2018

Day 6: No Place for Us in Chennai: A symposium on the gendered impact of forced evictions

Governments in a hurry to check off contemporary development indicators sanction public and private sector projects that too often require the vacation of land where people live and which they may also use for subsistence farming. This land is acquired for a variety of purposes with one major consequence: displacement. 

Forced evictions contribute significantly to the feminization of poverty and displacement, and alongside that, a host of negative consequences for women and girls. By extension, they also impact others genders in particular ways. 

Penn Thozhillar Sangam (PTS) has been a crusader for the rights of many evicted communities in Chennai. Prajnya and PTS came together to organise this half-day symposium to address the gendered impact of forced evictions. 

The invited speakers for the symposium were Satyarupa Shekhar, CAG; Vanessa Peter, a policy researcher, Geetha, a lawyer; Katheeja Talha, an architect; Ranjitha Gunasekharan, assistant editor New Indian Express, Sangeetha, PTS secretary and PTS members from evicted communities living in Gudapakkam, Perumbakkam, and Morai. The Chennai Housing Secretary S. Krishnan IAS was also invited to join the open discussion and give valedictory remarks. 

While Geetha and Ranjitha couldn't attend the event due to personal reasons, the event proceeded as planned. Following an interesting presentation by Satyarupa Shekhar on smart cities, the PTS members took to the floor to share their grievances. Following the session on community experiences, Vanessa Peter's talk summarised the problems faced by these communities. The next session was an open forum facilitated by Katheeja Talha and Sujata Mody. At the end of the session, housing secretary, S. Krishnan IAS, joined the discussion and heard the complaints and suggestions of the community people. 

The session ended on a high note with mutual appreciation shown by the housing secretary and Prajnya and PTS. 

Women's Christian College English department students rapporteured the programme and a detailed report of the programme will be added to this post. 

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