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Demolition of EWS quarters at Ejipura- Is it legal?

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Urban Development

I had been to the protest march this morning and returned sometime back. It looks like the demolition cannot be stopped. Here are some events which unfolded.

  • BBMP commissioner had aparently agreed to stay the demolition for the next 2-3 months as consideration (children's education will be impacted.) However, no written commitment (the usual thing)

  • His deputy, Ramesh, has mentioned that the demolition will continue. When informed of the commissioner's commitment (his boss), he has asked for written approval, which the commissioner does not want to give.

  • Most other concerning officials who have been conatcted were either not responding or in meetings (even on Sunday!)

  • Some of the civil society members requested the Police chief (at the site) to have the demolition to be stopped by a day , as today being sunday, it is not possible to get a stay order/ other approval to hold. However, the officer-in-charge refused it and sternly informed everyone not to come in between, else they would be arrested. Looks like he is under pressure to get the demolition done today itself.

  • While demolition was stopped for sometime (chiefly because me and other members were holding placards and blocked the 2 entrance options) there were rumours that there were couple of men brandishing knifes threatening people to vacate. Some dweller, were themselves removing their tin sheets and leaving, despite, some members telling them not to.�

My point is, while I agree that illegal immgrants would be residing there, it is undeniable that a piece of land give to the EWS people cannot be taken away with scant regard to the process of law. This is similar to the Beggars colony, which was initially allotted for rehabilitation and today their land is being seized.

Who owns this land? If it was allotted for welfare purpose, where is the justice to now use that land for commercial purpose? Why do the demolition on Sunday, when the courts are close, officials untraceable?.. These are question we need to reflect on

 

Vimal

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

Two sides of a story?

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Vimal,

Thanks for sharing the info on this incident. As the saying goes, there are 2 sides to a story. Is it possible to share the reasons behind this eviction?

Bangalore is Mine's picture

Petition to Chief Minsiter- Kindly read and take a stance

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Hi Syed/ All,

Below is the link to the petition created to stop the demolition. The link gives complee details of the backgrounder and what has prevailed in recent times.

http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/stop-demolitions-and-eviction-protect-the-housing-rights-of-the-residents-of-ews-quarters-koramangala

I would requet all to review in detail and take a stance. Sign it only if you are convinced. I did.

Thanks

Vimal

murali772's picture

the bigger picture

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While everyone feels sad about such evictions, and human sufferings thereof, the other side of the story also needs to be told if we are to find lasting solutions to these kinds of problems, which are not confined to Koramangala, Bangalore, or India even. Based on the note released by SlumJagathu, the organisation spear-heading the agitation, I have tried to bring to bear the right perspective the issues involved, para by para, as below:

In 1984 BBMP built 1512 houses in Viveknagar, Bangalore and distributed them to Economically Weaker Section families in 1996. These G+2 EWS quarters were not provided basic facilities like water or toilet. Due to rampant corruption in building the quarters, the buildings started cracking after 5 years and collapsed after 7 years of allotment. Three persons including a child died in the building collapse and several were injured.

Moral od the story: If you leave it to the PWD, or the slum development board, it is inevitable that you will only get such construction.

A committee setup by BBMP suggested that 21 of the 42 structures to be demolished and the rest repaired. But BBMP forced all people to vacate the buildings and demolished all the structures with an intention to handover the land to private companies.

I would suppose it was a matter of safety.

Meanwhile, people (both alotees and tenants) were forced to live in huts with tin sheds for many years.

BBMP had to provide shelter, and perhaps this was the best they could do it under the circumstances.

In a site where 3000 houses could be built, BBMP has signed a MoU with a private company to build 1640 houses (G+9 multi storeyed) and intend to distribute only to the original allottees. Already 22 acres of prime land has been given to the notorious Garuda Mall as a result of huge corruption from top to bottom. The company will be building the houses in 40 % land and build a commercial complex in the other 60% land.  This is  clearly an act of land grab. This is nothing but an action of plundering the land reserved for the housing of Dalits and Minorities.

This is a PPP model adopted from Mumbai (perhaps tried elsewhere before too) - it has its merits and de-merits. It's essentially a way of addressing the dire shortage of housing for the urban poor. The contract award was challenged in the court, and the court upheld the decision of the government. Now, it can be argued that the government should fund the housing of the poor on its own, in which case perhaps 3000 houses could have been built. Of course, that logic will the lead to many more such demands, whereas the government resources are already stretched to its limits.

The BBMP Officials have managed to reach a compromise with the EWS allottees and the company to completely evict the thousand and odd families living their without any form of rehabilitation, in spite of the BBMP promise of building in-situ houses for them. BBMP has also issued them the necessary identity cards and the people living there possess their voter ids and ration cards to prove their claim. The BBMP managed to suppress the vital information from the high court of Karnataka and procuring a judgement in their favour and evict the EWS residents without any rehabilitation.

When the buildings collapsed, the government made necessary arrangements for the rehabilitation of the original 1512 allotees. But, between them, the local politicians, and such other vested interests, they allowed the vacated lands to be occupied by a new set of migrants, obviously for a consideration. More importantly, the politicians got them voter ID cards, forming a captive vote bank on the promise of getting them permanent housing too. (This is not too different from what is happening in Assam - where Bangladeshi migrants have similarly been exploited - as also had been happening in various pockets in Delhi and other places, including our own Shivajinagar).

What is happening essentially is that the hapless poor are being exploited by various sets of politicians in their nefarious games. The answers have to be found elsewhere.

A mall coming up there is of equal concern to everyone in Koramangala because of the added traffic problems it is going to create to the already chaotic situation prevailing. That has been highlighted here.

Muralidhar Rao
Bangalore is Mine's picture

But BBMP does have fund at disposal

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I do not think using PPP model was needed here. Alternate funding for this specific purpose is already in place. Below is the extract from the petition which highlights it

BBMP is trying to justify the transfer of EWS land to a private company by claiming that there is shortage of funds. However, the same BBMP sent back Rs. 13 crores received last year from the Central Government under the JNNURM-BSUP project, meant to build houses for poor people, citing shortage of land. Apart from JNNURM-BSUP funds, money for building the houses can also be mobilised from the Rajiv Awas Yojana, the 22.75% Special Component Plan for SC/ST communities, 15% funds reserved for minorities and 7.5% reserved for Backward classes. There is no dearth of money, if the government wants to provide housing for the weaker sections.

It surprises me that the High courts did not see this before ruling in favour of PPP.

Vimal

murali772's picture

the undoing, perhaps

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The High Court would have seen it if it was presented before it. I doubt it ever was, because I noticed mention of it for the first time only in the petition started some two days back. Perhaps, that was the undoing in the case. Now, the option remains to go to the Supreme Court.

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

Shivajinagar!

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This is not too different from what is happening in Assam - where Bangladeshi migrants have similarly been exploited - as also had been happening in various pockets in Delhi and other places, including our own Shivajinagar).

Murali, I am not sure what you are alluding to when you speak about 'Shivajinagar' in this context? A bit more clarity will help.

  • Whether Shivajinagar hosts a no. of illegal immigrants? Any sources?
  • Whether it was based on profile of the residents living there?
  • Whether more such localities in B'lore whose resident profile is similar to Shivajinagar, also hosts illegal immigrants?
Bangalore is Mine's picture

Why was FAR not used?

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It just occured that usage of FAR was not discussed anywhere 

On a worst case scenario, if PPP was required, the builder could have been compensated with additional FAR for thier ongoing or future projects. There was no need to give land as compensation.

This is a huge irony beacuse BBMP actively used FAR while compensating residential/ commercial establishments while taking their land for road widening.

The case just seems to get murkier....

 

murali772's picture

unscrupulous neta's

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@ Syedbhai - That was decades ago. I used to be residing close to the area. One fine morning, passing along the the Broadway road in an auto, I noticed tent-like structures all along the footpaths on both the sides and even along the bylanes, and the place crawling with people, including women and children. On enquiry, the auto driver told me that they were all Bangladeshi's, about which he himself didn't seem too happy. He attributed it all to a well-known politician, whose pocket-borough the constituency has from long been. It was perhaps around the time of Bangladesh's liberation, and therefore, there may have been a humanitarian side to it too. But, unlike in the case of Tibetan refugees, who were properly rehabilitated in settlement colonies like in Bylakuppe, etc, this lot seemed to be dumped on the road-sides like cattle. As far as the politician was concerned, apparently the consideration was building up his vote bank, and nothing more.

In Ejipura too, it's more or less the same story. Firstly, the wholesale corruption in the Slum Development Board (headed invariably by some politician) leads to the buildings proving unsafe (besides, being unlivable right from the very beginning) within a few years of commissioning. Then, instead of arranging to build afresh using the various kinds of funding packages available, the politician, being more interested in the numbers, just allows the land to be occupied by more people, but who are left to fend for themselves. All he provides them is the voter ID card, apart from a few crumbs like the ration card, etc (Organising the funding for proper rehabilitation calls for some dedicated work, which he is prepared to do only on projects projects where the returns to him are bigger, like the TTMC's under the JNURM package, whether they have any use for the public or not). And, eventually, you have a serious humanitarian problem on hand. Actually, the abysmal living conditions were by themselves a humanitarian issue.

The only answer to all of these is to keep exposing the deeds of this breed of politicians repeatedly, and slowly but steadily flush them out of the system. It will take its time; but once it reaches a tipping point, it should happen faster.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

mean TDR?

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@ BiM - I expect you mean TDR (transferable development rights). It's discussed at length here. It's been more or less a non-starter in Bengaluru.

Muralidhar Rao
Bangalore is Mine's picture

TDR for additional FAR

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@Murali- You are right.

As Maverick Holdings are stated to be a 'construction' company, BBMP could have issued TDR which, would in turn woul provide additional FAR (floor are ratio) for their current or future projects, as compensation.

I beleive TDR was avnon-starter in Bangalore, cos it was issued to residential areas too, wherein people had little or no knowledge or use of it.  Chiefly,  construction companies would need it create additional floors and some concessions on setbacks.

Vimal

kbsyed61's picture

Word it carefully!

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Murali,

We should state and word carefully to buttress our arguments. The particular incident you are referring to is to the year 1971. Do the tents exist today? I will leave the answer to you. Let us know if there are official figures and data as to how many of Shivajinagar residents are "illegal Immigrants" or "illegal occupants" of the homes they live in? The discussion on immigrants legal or illegal is lengthy one. This is not the topic of the post to dwell in.

For the new comers to city, Shivajinagar has been in existence since the British rule and used to be part of Cantonment which they used to control. For many old timers, the area is still 'Cantonment' area, not the Railway Station. It is pronounce as "Contromment". The locality is in existence even before the Bangaldesh came into existence, even before India got independence.

I can vouch that this area has changed very little since the 1971 war. It is still congested, uncleaned roads/pavements, indifferent BBMP attitude towards providing civic amenities as done in other affluent areas and resident's themselves remaining uninterested.

 

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