Pathway to two houses in D.B. Nagar also demolished

It is a balancing act every day for Stella P., a ninth standard student, and her family. For the residents of D.B. Nagar, near Cambridge Layout here, the only way to their house is a makeshift bamboo bridge over a drain.

Around three months ago, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) demolished the small pathway over the drain that the residents of two houses had constructed as an access to their homes. These were deemed as encroachments and demolished, according to the palike.

That is not all. Around 25 years ago, the corporation constructed public toilets over the drain that runs between Artillery Road and Cambridge Road.

On Thursday, these “encroachments” were partly demolished, along with the room constructed for the Dr. Ambedkar Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Youth Association.

Only the women’s toilet block remains now as residents opposed its demolition.

S.A. Shubhashini, a homemaker and local resident, said that not many residents in the area have toilets.

“Many are dependent on the public toilets. When the demolition started, the residents asked the BBMP to make alternative arrangements. They have spared the women’s block. However, since Thursday, there has been no water supply to the toilets,” she said.

C. Raja (name changed on request), another resident, said that the road by the drain was now littered with debris, making it difficult for the residents to walk. “We do not know why the toilets were demolished. Just a couple of years ago, the BBMP took up repairs in the toilet blocks. Why would they do that if the toilets were encroachments and to be demolished soon?” he asked.

Another resident Kumar (name changed) said that there were four toilet blocks on the drain. “Two blocks were demolished a few months ago. Now, the men in the area have no toilets. We don’t know why they were demolished. While the local councillor (Sarala Mohan) feigned ignorance, the BBMP officials are tight-lipped,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force arrested Chandrashekar, an assistant engineer in BBMP East zone’s Storm Water Drain Department, for not demolishing the structures on the drain. A senior official told The Hindu on condition of anonymity that Chandrashekar was not responsible for either prevention or removal of encroachments on drains. “He is an assistant engineer in the project wing that carries out remodelling work. The removal and prevention of encroachments vest with the ward engineers,” he said.

The official said that part of the drain’s retaining wall had collapsed and the Storm Water Drain Department’s project wing had taken up remodelling and fencing of the drain. He, however, clarified that the toilet blocks could not be termed as encroachments. “The corporation has created a facility for the urban poor. How can a structure constructed by a government agency on its property be termed as encroachment?” he asked.

Despite several attempts, councillor Sarala Mohan could not be contacted.

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