Homeless, they now make do with living in the KSDB community hall
It’s almost a month since thousands of residents of the shanty town that once stood in Ejipura were rendered homeless. While scores of families still live in tents on the footpaths around the perimeter of the 15 acre 22 gunta-land, several others have been forced to move to Sarjapur by “agents” who promised them homes there. Needless to say, the homeless from Ejipura have once again been rendered homeless in Sarjapur.
Several families, who moved to the quarters built by the Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) at Kasavanahalli in Sarjapur, are now “living” in the community hall there.
Habib Jaan and his family were told by an agent that there were plenty of empty houses at Sarjapur. “The agent even showed us one house. He took an advance of Rs. 3,000 and said he would return with the house owner to complete the rest of the formalities. We have not seen him since,” he said.
Mr. Jaan is one among several families living in the community hall at KSDB quarters, which was opened to accommodate them. Rights activist Kshitij Urs said when several families were found living outside the Kasavanahalli quarters, they appealed to the KSDB, and the board allowed the Ejipura evacuees to use the community hall.
He also admitted that some residents, who were sent there by local henchmen, broke the locks and moved into vacant houses there. But the original allottees evicted them later. Even such families have been living in the community hall.
Room for Rs. 1,000
However, a few families have managed to rent a few homes at the quarters. Naseema Parveen, who used to live in a 10 x 10 ft tin shed at Ejipura, has moved into a one-room house at the quarters. She said an agent, who identified himself as Swami, asked her family and that of her neighbours Sameena Khanum, Kiran Panedy and Shabreen Taj to go to Kasavanahalli where there were plenty of vacant houses. “Left with no option, we came here on a rent of Rs. 1,000 a month. The houses here are better than the sheds, even if there is no power supply. We drew the power connections ourselves,” conceded Ms. Parveen.
Meanwhile, neither the KSDB nor the BBMP have assumed the responsibility of rehabilitating the residents of the Ejipura shanty town who are now homeless. The KSDB officials claim that the board is only a construction agency, while the BBMP claims it is responsible only to the 1,512 original allottees of the Economically Weaker Sections quarters in Ejipura. Around 900-odd residents who have been given “gurutina chiti” will be rehabilitated at the quarters that will be constructed under Rajiv Awaz Yojana at Sooligunte, Sarjapur. “What about the hundreds of other families? According to the Karnataka Slum Development Act, 1974, the board is not just a construction agency. It is supposed to be responsible for all deprived urban communities and cannot shirk responsibility. The BBMP should have first ensured that the thousands of residents are rehabilitated before demolishing their homes,” Mr. Urs said.
However, a KSDB official said the board can rehabilitate only residents of declared slums. “Ejipura shanty town was on BBMP land. We are building a facility for the evicted residents at Sooligunte, following directions of the High Court,” he said.