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57 per cent of JNNURM houses for slum-dwellers unoccupied

Mohit M. Rao
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Violation of BSUP guidelines blamed for the situation

Going by the grandiose plans under the Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) mission, one would assume that the slum-dwellers were in for a bonanza. However, the shoddy implementation of these plans by the Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) are exposed in the disturbing statistic that a shocking 57 per cent (7,965 houses of the 13,873) houses “constructed” in the city are still unoccupied.

The problems of implementation of BSUP (with funds from Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) are evident in the rehabilitation of Drumshed (Dumpsite) slum, Old Byappanahalli, to their allotted apartments in Sadamangala near Satellite Goods Terminus, Whitefield. Situated virtually in the middle-of-nowhere, there is absolutely no access, let alone transportation, to the colony. The nearest bus stand is in Whitefield, more than two kilometres away.

Their relocation to Sadamangala, which is 15 km from Byappanahalli, violates a basic tenet of BSUP, “urban poor [should be] provided housing near their place of occupation”.

And it is because of this distance that the residents, including little children, suffer arduous journeys to work and school, while many have chosen to stay in the slum till employment opportunities open up in Whitefield. “Around 50 per cent of the families still stay in the sheds at Byappanahalli because it would be inconvenient to move in,” said P. Sudhakar, who has been a resident of the complex since it was opened six months ago.

Another violation of a BSUP guideline is the lack of water supply, sanitation, permanent electricity supply and schools, hospitals, ration shops, which deter slum-dwellers from moving in, he said.

Lack of water

Unlike the “cross-country” rehabilitation of the Drumshed slum, the Srinivasapura complex in Yelahanka hobli rehabilitates slum-dwellers from the area itself. However, even though the complex was inaugurated in July last year, it wears a deserted look with, according to residents, over 250 houses unoccupied.

Yellamma and Suresh, residents of the complex, cite the un-motorable access road to the complex, and the lack of water supply as the reasons for this. “There is no borewell or water sources nearby for us. Instead, we get water through a tanker twice a week. I know of at least 100 families from the slums that have not shifted because of this,” said Suresh.

Affordability

JNNURM also has the disadvantage of asking slum-dwellers to pay a deposit — ranging from Rs. 18,100 (phase 1 constructions which have 45 per cent occupancy) to Rs. 30,100 (phase 2 which has only 30 per cent occupancy).

Raju, a daily wage worker who has been living in the Sanjaynagar area, said that as banks did not readily give loans to people who don't have an address or even steady employment, it would take him a long time to arrange payment for a house allotted in Parappana Agrahara.

Estimating that non-payment of deposit for the houses accounted for only 15 per cent of unoccupied houses, a KSDB official confessed that full occupancy would be obtained only when all the utility works were completed.

Asked about the reason for handing over the “incomplete” complexes, the official said, “The projects were given a timeframe for its inauguration for some political reason or the other. Due to this, we had to declare it open even though basic facilities were not in place.”

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