Residents of nearly 600 houses constructed under the high-tension power line in Tippu Nagar, Ambedkar Nagar and Tunga Nagar face the threat of being rendered homeless as the authorities of the Mangalore Electricity Supply Company (Mescom) have issued notices to them to shift from the marked area coming under the power line.
Taken aback by the sudden move by the authorities of Mescom, the occupants of these houses, majority of them being poor Muslims who are daily wage workers, have decided to go against it.
“We could not celebrate Ramzan this time as we were under the constant threat of being evicted,” say many Muslim residents.
The families which have received the notices from Mescom say that they will not shift from the area unless they are adequately and properly rehabilitated. They demand that families to be affected be given at least an alternate site and a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh each before making them shift elsewhere.
Nawab Baig, president of the Tippu Nagar, Ambedkar Nagar and Tunga Nagar Refugees Welfare Forum, says that the people in the area are willing to cooperate with the authorities by moving out of the place but that can happen only if their demands were met. “The residents are willing to move out of the area only if their demands are met,” he says. However, he adds that they are prepared to pay any price to protest against the “illegal eviction”.
He says that a majority of families pay house tax and possess title deeds given by the City Municipal Council on the basis of which they obtained ration cards. He says that many of the houses have power connection.
It is said that most of the houses were constructed nearly 40 to 50 years ago with many of them being constructed even before the high-tension power line was laid in the sixties.
Besides, the Karnataka State Slum Clearance Board which has reportedly developed the area as a slum has reportedly given the title deeds to its occupants besides developing the area with infrastructure such as streetlights and drainage system. “When such is the case, how can we be faulted for living under the high-tension power line?” they ask and allege that the authorities alone will be held responsible for having allowed them to live there.
Another event that has made the families in the area nervous is the demolition of the shops on the BH Road for the purpose of the road-widening almost the same time last year.
What has upset the residents of the area is that the local elected representatives have not responded properly to their predicament.
The secretary of the forum Aslam said when the people of the area sought the intervention of the Minister for Energy K.S. Eshwarappa, he reportedly asked them to shift from the area without offering any assurance with regard to their rehabilitation.
Convener of the Karnataka Janapara Vedike K.L. Ashok who has taken exception to the manner in which the families in the area are being asked to shift elsewhere said that when they were living there “legally”, they cannot be evicted without being offered a rehabilitation package.
Mr. Ashok said the Government and the district administration will face serious consequences if they overlook the demands of the residents of the area.
The residents of the area with the active support of several progressive organisations have decided to take out a procession from the Science Field here on Friday to protest against the reported move to evict them.
Meanwhile, Mescom authorities have made it clear in the notices served on the residents that there should not be any dwelling structure within 7.5 metre on either side below the high-tension power line.
But what is inexplicable is how the families were allowed to live within the marked area under the high-tension power line for so many years. Besides, why were they issued title deeds, ration cards and other facilities by the City Municipal Council, State Slum Clearance Board and Mescom is a question that needs an answer.