Technology Grows Over Slum Dwellers

Development of IT parks in Chennai isn’t accompanied by development of neighbouring slums.

“People have been living in this slum for years, and still have not got a road. And there are all these new buildings and roads being built just over there,” Mani said regarding today’s video. Two years ago, Mani had gone to the Perungudi slum to assist with a flood relief program being organized by an NGO. He helped with the distribution of food and water to the victims, and was stunned by the rapidly changing landscape – shiny buildings, large towers and new roads were being constructed barely a few kilometres from the sprawling slum.

Mani himself lives in a slum area in Chennai, and is therefore able to understand and empathies with the problems being faced by slum dwellers in other parts of the city. But what makes him angry is the situation of those slums located next to sites of accelerated urban growth. Schools and hospitals remain far away, and because there aren’t many proper roads in these areas, transportation suffers. Auto rickshaws refuse to come in and people have to walk twenty minutes to get to a bus route. When there’s a medical emergency, “people run and go” to the government hospital about 6 kilometres away, Mani says. “The drinking water that is brought by tankers twice a week is full of insects, but they have got used to it. They don’t get sick from it anymore.”

When he was interviewing people for this video, there was a lot of resentment and frustration. Like them, Mani wants to see development happening in a more homogenous way and the basic needs of Chennai’s poor met before the construction of more IT parks.

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