Police caned protesting residents of M.S. Jairam slum in Mathikere Saturday morning when the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials arrived with bulldozers to raze 60 illegally constructed houses as part of the road-widening project.
Angry residents alleged that they were not served any notice, but BBMP officials insisted to the contrary saying the slum-dwellers had been given ample time to vacate their houses. “Jairam slum is on government land and slum-dwellers had encroached onto 11 metres of land along the flyover. The BBMP razed the illegal constructions to combat the traffic problem at the Mathikere bridge and to clear the bottleneck,” B.T. Ramesh, Chief Engineer (West) of BBMP, told The Hindu.
“The widening of the road will help free flow of vehicles from Mathikere, BEL and M.S. Palya. The drive to remove encroachments started early morning and several houses were demolished. Notices were issued to all on several occasions,” Mr. Ramesh said, and added, “The BBMP has constructed transit sheds for those who lost their houses. Basic facilities have been provided.” The deracinated slum-dwellers will be rehabilitated at houses built either by the Karnataka Housing Board (KHB) or the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board (KSCB).
This was cold comfort to victims who described the demolition drive as inhumane. “Without serving any notice, the BBMP officials came here and demolished our homes. They also damaged our electrical gadgets and articles,” a resident said.
Residents complained that toilet facilities at the transit sheds were poor. “One toilet has to be shared by four houses. There is no electricity in the sheds,” said one. The police also came under fire from the slum-dwellers for caning them.