Life is a daily struggle for the relocated residents of Veerabhadranagar. Their relocation to Bheemanakuppe, a desolate settlement, in Kengeri hobli in Bangalore Rural district, has made it difficult for them to make ends meet.
Construction labourer Mahadevaiah, 38, and his wife, Sabamma, 34, a domestic help, together used to earn around Rs. 6,000 per month to sustain their family of four children and parents while they were staying in Veerabhadranagar near Nayandahalli till Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) acquired the land on which their slum stood about two years ago.
Today, Mahadevaiah's family residing in Bheemanakuppe, about 15 km from Nayandahalli, are forced to make do with less than Rs. 3,500 per month. While his wife has no homes nearby for her to go and work, he himself gets work only for three or four days a week.
While residing in Veerabhadranagar slum, Mahadevaiah's and 255 other families had no dearth of work opportunities. But, their relocation to Bheemanakuppe, a desolate settlement, in Kengeri hobli in Bangalore Rural district, has made it difficult for them to make ends meet.
About 100 families, who resided in the erstwhile Veerabhadranagar slum, have migrated to other towns, while some have gone to other parts of the city. For the rest, who had no option but to shift to Bheemanakuppe to settle down in the tiny, broken-down shelters put up by the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board (KSCB) until houses are built for them under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), life is a daily struggle.
“Some officials came one morning, two years ago, and asked us to vacate our houses in Veerabhadranagar. We did not even have time to take our belongings. For several months since then, we lived on the footpath. We came here (Bheemanakuppe) last April. Life here is very difficult,” laments Mariyala Mahadevappa, a slum-dweller.
The slum-dwellers are unhappy as there are no jobs nearby. Huligappa S., another slum-dweller said, “There are no jobs here. We manage to get work only three days a week.”
Also, the residents say that the closest hospital is eight kilometres away. “For schools for our children, we have to tread three kilometres,” they said. Most children have dropped out of schools but through the efforts of a non-governmental organisation, they are being given vocational training in a small room near their sheds.
Sanitation is poor and there is no electricity supply. The families still go to the Veerabhadranagar fair price shop to buy essentials.
Mahadeviah says, “We have to travel 15 kilometres by bus every month to get our monthly ration. We also miss out on the day's income if we go to buy our ration.”
Joint Director of KSCB M. Madesha said, “All rehabilitated slums are in the same condition. We cannot do anything about that.”
The modified guidelines under the JNNURM state that “care will be taken to see that the urban poor are provided housing near their place of occupation.”
Since the term “near” has not been defined, slum-dwellers regretted that the KSCB did not hesitate to rehabilitate them 15 km from the original place.
Asked why the slum-dwellers were not rehabilitated close to Veerabhadranagar, Mr. Madesha said, “Wherever we get space, we have to accommodate them.”
Technical Director of KSCB Sannachetaiah said, “In relocation projects, we face problems and formalities have to be completed. We will do whatever is possible.”
The slum-dwellers are the intended targets of the JNNURM housing project, expected to be completed in December this year. They will have to pay 10 per cent of the cost, which may be around Rs. 25,000. But Mahadevappa Naik (45) says, “I do not know when and how I will get my next meal. How can you expect me to pay Rs. 25,000?”