Pavement dwelling families are one of the most marginalized communities in the City ofChennai, without being recognized as official settlements and their right to housing denied for many decades. Karunalaya works to protect the children in these families by providing opportunities to join schooling and continue education by offering supplementary evening classes near to their dwellings. Women in the families are also being formed into women self help groups and provided with training on leadership skills, economic development activities and rights based empowerment.
For the first time inChennaiCity, the pavement dwellers formed an association called Pavement Dwellers Rights Association (PDRA) with the guidance and support of Karunalaya.
The main objective of the PDRA is to bring the 40000 odd families living on the pavements across Chennai for years under one umbrella and collectively fight for their rights. The aim is to be independent, people lead and subscription based to evolve as a movement in the state. Many efforts have been taken including, demonstration, petitions, press meet and sensitization of civil society organizations to strengthen the actions.
1) The pavement dwelling people should also be treated as human beings. The government officials and police should respect them.
2) We should not be forced to live in night shelter like cattle affecting our freedom.
3) Amend Laws and create Policy to protect Pavement Dwelling Families
4) The government scheme of night shelter should be abandoned and provide permanent houses within 3 kilometers of our present residence.
5) The unused land of the government within the city should be identified and houses should be built for us.
6) Eviction without notice and by force affecting the life, livelihood and education of children shall not be carried out by the Government.
7) Pavement dwelling people should get all the government benefits.
8) Any decision affecting Pavement dwellers shall be made in consultation with the Pavement dwellers Rights Association.
9) Welfare schemes for pavement dwelling people like health, education and insurance should be announced by the government.
10) Create Welfare board for the pavement dwellers.
PDRA future activities
1) To continue Advocacy and Lobby activities.
2) PDRA to be evolved as a massive movement
3) To gather people from different parts of Chennai district and form PDRA.
4) The PDRA representatives to be given training and meetings to be conducted.
5) The NGO’s working for PDRA to be integrated.
6) District level PDRA to be formed.
7) Petitions will be given to the government based on the problems faced by the pavement dwellers.
8) Continuous agitation, rally to be organized. Government officials to be met and petitions to be given.