Muralidhara Khajane

The March 4 blaze in Mandya left many people homeless

Residents of Tamil colony have been demanding ‘hakku patra’

Karnataka Rakshana Vedike wants colony shifted to some other place

MYSORE: Over 400 Tamil labourers whose huts were destroyed in a fire in Mandya in March are living in a miserable state.

Frustrated by the apathy of the authorities, some of them have gone back to where they lived before the accident, and have been using plastic and tarpaulin to protect themselves.

The slum-dwellers were rendered homeless in the March 4 fire in the Tamil colony. Local social organisations provided relief material, and the displaced people were accommodated in the IMA Hall and a local school building. The district administration also accommodated them in temporary sheds.

Labourers who came to Karnataka from Tamil Nadu during the construction of Krishnaraja Sagar, near Mysore, in 1911, settled in the Tamil colony. They call themselves Kannadigas and have supported the State’s stand on the Cauvery waters dispute.

For the past several years, the residents of the colony have been demanding “hakku patra” (title deed) to construct permanent dwellings. “Even after staying here for more than five decades, we have not been given the ‘hakku patra’,” says Palaniswamy (55).

Manjunatha Prasad, who was the Deputy Commissioner when the fire accident occurred, ordered a survey of all the 35 slums in Mandya. He had also promised to initiate the process of issuing “hakku patra”. The authorities are still not clear whether to build new dwellings in the Tamil colony or shift the people elsewhere to facilitate expansion of the district hospital.

While the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike staged a protest demanding that the colony be shifted to some other place, the labourers are in no mood to move out. They want the authorities to issue “hakku patra” so that they can build houses there.

According to vice-president, Mandya City Municipal Council (CMC), Ramesh, who lost his hut in the fire accident, the issue is before the slum clearance board and a final decision is expected shortly. He blames the district administration for the delay in the issue of title deeds.

“The Revenue Department has directed the Deputy Commissioner to issue the title deeds, but the authorities are not taking action,” he said. Mr. Ramesh said the labourers were facing a lot of problems.

President of Mandya CMC Nagamma said: “We have provided basic amenities to the labourers by constructing 10 public toilets and providing drinking water. Some of them are staying where their huts once existed as they are apprehensive of losing their right over the land.”