Officials demolish their homes built on government land in Ulaibettu

Five families - some of them with young children - were left homeless in the rain on Wednesday after their one-room houses were demolished by the district administration for having encroached government land.

Five houses built on government land at Badriyanagar in Ulaibettu Gram Panchayat limits were demolished by a team of officials who arrived at around 11 a.m. and told them to vacate the premises. Without giving them time to gather their belongings, authorities demolished their houses and left, residents said.

Agony

Weeping, 45-year-old Shakuntala said she and her husband Chandrashekar Achar had built the house around four months ago. She rolled beedis for a living while her husband was a daily-wage earner, she said.

They had built the house as the one that Mr. Achar's father had built was on the hillside. Ms. Shakuntala said that there was no proper pathway to the house and that she had fallen and injured her hand recently. When repeated requests to the gram panchayat to build a road went in vain, they decided to build a house in Badriyanagar.

Zainab, aged about 50, lives with her daughter, son-in-law, and their three children. She said that she and her daughter were rolling beedis when the authorities arrived. In the chaos that followed, she said, dust and mud had fallen into the ganji (porridge) pot, which was still steaming when this correspondent visited the spot an hour later.

“They have left us with nothing,” Ms. Zainab said weeping. “When rich people encroach upon acres of land, nobody bothers. But we only took two cents to build a house. Don't we need a place to live?” she said.

Futile bid

Abdul Khader, aged about 60, said that he had spent around Rs. 70,000 to build a house of laterite blocks and tarpaulin roof. All three of them said that they had applied to the village panchayat for government housing, but nothing had come of it.

Deputy Commissioner N.S. Channappa Gowda said the district administration had received a complaint that government land had been encroached. So he directed the tahsildar to remove the encroachments.