The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath on the forced eviction of residents of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) shanty town by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in Ejipura in January this year.
A communiqué received in Bangalore on Monday said that the NHRC has taken cognisance of a media report, forwarded by non-governmental organisations, alleging serious health problems being faced by about 2,000 people who were evicted.
The Chief Secretary has been directed to submit a report within four weeks on the eviction, steps taken to rehabilitate the evicted people, besides informing the commission about the steps taken to provide basic amenities such as food, drinking water, sanitation and health facilities upholding the evictees’ human rights.
The NHRC noted that 200 evicted families have made their temporary homes on the periphery of the area from where they were ousted. “They have not been provided with any basic facilities. Diarrheal diseases, infections and other forms of water and air-borne diseases are rampant. There are no proper water, sanitation and toilet facilities,” it has said.
The commission had taken cognisance of the forced eviction and harassment of victims by police.
A notice was issued to the Chief Secretary and Director-General and Inspector-General of Police early this year and the issue is under consideration.
Meanwhile, a fact-finding report by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties - Karnataka, and Housing and Land Rights Network - Delhi, found that the human rights of the urban poor had been violated. The government and its agencies have breached the Constitution, national laws and policies, orders of the Supreme Court and international law, including the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement.
Illegal land use
The report, a copy of which is with The Hindu , notes that the public-private partnership between the BBMP and Maverick Holdings is illegal because the land that was designated for “public purpose”, namely housing for economically weaker sections, has been converted into commercial use for the gain of a private entity. The BBMP has flouted its own resolution (passed in 2005) recognising the rights of the residents to permanent housing and assured them of in-situ resettlement.
The fact-finding team has demanded that the government recognise and uphold the “right to the city” of the urban poor — who contribute to the city — as their inalienable right, besides ordering a judicial enquiry into the evictions, demolitions and public-private partnership. The government should also provide immediate and adequate rehabilitation to all the evicted residents, irrespective of whether they are original allottees or tenants. The other demands include compensation to all victims, dissolve the illegal public-private partnership, and take action against BBMP and police officials responsible for the violence and attack on residents and activists.