Rs. 300-crore allocation toward housing for poor becomes rallying point
Breaking their ideological barriers, activists of organisations as disparate as the Students Islamic Organisation of India and the Democratic Youth Federation of India joined a demonstration on Saturday against the recent demolition of 1,500 dwellings at the Ejipura colony for economically weaker sections.
Some of the demonstrators came from as far away as Gulbarga and Mangalore to participate in the protest. Many IT employees too were among the protesters. There were some tense moments as the police prevented them from getting too close to the demolition site, which has been cordoned off. The protest ended with hundreds of activists courting arrest.
The 15 acre and 22 guntas of prime land in Ejipura was cleared in mid-January as a result of a public-private partnership (PPP) deal between the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Maverick Holdings and Investment Pvt. Ltd. As part of the deal, Maverick will use half the land to build a mall and construct 1,512 apartments for the economically weaker sections on the other half.
The Rs. 300-crore budgetary allocation toward housing for the poor, announced in the budget on Friday, became the rallying point for Saturday’s agitators. “Let the government use this money to build apartments for the poor,” they demanded.
“The budgetary allocation is proof that the government has the money to build houses for the poor. What then was the need to enter into a PPP with Maverick?” said Ashwin Mahesh of Lok Satta Party.
A prominent feature of the agitation was the participation of students from the St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, the Garment and Textile Workers’ Union as well as several construction workers from across the city. “My farmland in the village too was taken away to build a factory. I can feel their pain,” said Ramdiyal, a construction worker in the city who is originally from the Tonk district of Rajasthan.