Staff Reporter

Displaced promised houses

Authorities fail to give alternative land, say slum-dwellers

Only 120 families accommodated in VAMBAY building

VISAKHAPATNAM: A self-immolation bid by a youth on Thursday has once again brought to the fore the undue delay in the rehabilitation of displaced families of Kanakala Dibba (Dabagardens).

One of the displaced persons, Suri Babu doused himself with kerosene but was prevented from setting himself afire by residents of the slum.

A bucket-full of water was poured on him. Police prevented the situation from going out of control.

The large chunk of land, about 5,300 square yards, is owned by private persons. The displaced families claim that they have been living in the slum for several decades.

“The municipal corporation authorities evicted us from our houses in 2002. They told us that we would be allotted houses in the VAMBAY scheme. The landowners parted with 1,500 square yards for the VAMBAY building, which was constructed by the municipal corporation in 2003,” said V. Satyanarayana, vice-president of the displaced slum dwellers association.

“The MCV authorities, however, failed to give an alternative site to the owners on the outskirts of the city as was reportedly promised by them. The corporation has also failed to allot the houses to the beneficiaries till now. Only 120 of the total 160 displaced families could be accommodated in the VAMBAY building. There were also 16 other displaced persons who had been staying in the slum for several decades but they were denied a claim to be allotted a house as they were all Government employees,” they said.

Meanwhile, the GVMC authorities have been asking the land owners to give them an additional 240 square yards land for construction of VAMBAY houses for the remaining 40 displaced families who couldn’t be allotted houses. One of the owners Kanakala Rambabu refused to part with any more land as the corporation had gone back on its promise of allotting an alternative site.

Forcible occupation

On Saturday, some of the displaced persons forcibly occupied the flats in the VAMBAY building and this aggravated the problem. A third group pitched a tent and organised a protest. They alleged that some unauthorised persons who were not from the area had occupied some of the flats and wanted that the flats be allocated on a draw of lots. Kanakala Rambabu claimed that the dispute was on since 1976 as 20 tenants had refused to pay the rent or vacate the premises.

He refused to part with an additional 240 square yards as the municipal corporation had failed to keep its earlier promise. He claimed that he had all the documents to prove that he was the sole and rightful owner of the entire land.