Tin sheds serve as homes in the Ejipura slum, their sturdy doors taken from the collapsed quarters
Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) Quarters is only a euphemism for the slum at Ejipura. Residents of the area call a shed their home, which they refuse to leave for promised apartments, given an evident trust deficit with the city authorities.
More than 1,500 tin sheds occupy the land opposite the swanky National Games Village (NGV), where the EWS quarters are yet to be built. The decision to build these quarters was made in 1985, some residents recall.
A dump developed
“The land here used to be a garbage dump prior to 1985 and was cleared to build housing quarters for the police. But once the flats were built, the Police Department rejected them as they believed the houses were weak,” narrates X. Lewis, president, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Youth Social Welfare Association, which represents the allottees of the EWS quarters.
“Then it was decided that instead of the police, these quarters would house the economically weaker sections.”
Lewis and other beneficiaries claim the houses were bought by people pretending to belong to economically weaker sections and subsequently given them out on rent. “The purpose was perhaps served as those who rented the houses were the ones in dire need of shelter.”
In 2003, one of the blocks collapsed owing to its weak structure, Lewis says. Other residents recount how all the remaining houses had to be demolished as their feeble structures became apparent.
“People were asked to vacate the houses while new houses were built. Temporary arrangements were made for them,” Lewis says.
And so, rows of tiny sheds were built to accommodate the residents of the erstwhile quarters. Though built only to last six months, the sheds have remained to this day.
Tenders were subsequently invited for the construction of flats, the association says. Two builders applied for tenders. What followed, however, was a prolonged legal battle between the builders, which further delayed the construction of the housing quarters.
Earlier this year, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike entered into a joint venture agreement with Maverick Holdings for the construction of multi-storeyed housing and a commercial complex on the same piece of land.
The corporation is currently in the process of issuing biometric cards to the residents of the shed-houses. “They are not telling us what will appear on our biometric card. We are not sure if it will mention that we belong to the economically weaker section,” says Suresh, secretary of the association.
“They are now offering each allottee Rs. 15,000 and have asked us to use that money to find a house in the city while they build a house here. Where will we find a house with such little money? And, what if they refuse us a house here once we get one outside?” he wonders.
Despite degraded conditions of water supply and sanitation in the area, families refuse to move out. “At least, in this shed, we have a roof above our head,” reasons a resident who did not want to be named.
The only semblance that the tin sheds bear to real houses is a sturdy door on each house. The doors have been taken from the erstwhile quarters that collapsed, and fit into these sheds, in the hope that some day they can have a house that fits these doors.