Whitefield slum-dwellers given ultimatum to clear out

BBMP officials say they were becoming a health concern

November 30, 2018 10:35 pm | Updated 10:35 pm IST

Dwellers of a series of large slums, which house over 5,000 people, have been given time till Monday to vacate their temporary shed-like structures at Tubarahalli near Whitefield.

The ultimatum was issued on Friday during a visit by officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, local MLA Arvind Limbavali and police officials. BBMP officials said the unauthorised slums were becoming a health concern, as they had no access to basic amenities, while residents nearby had lodged multiple complaints of garbage burning in the area. Most residents in the slum work as house help or ragpickers.

“Through the night, they burn plastic, which has created a big problem for other residents,” said a civic official.

The slums have been there for nearly 10 years, with landowners renting small houses for anywhere between ₹4,000 and ₹5,000 per month. There were at least 14 identified landowners who had created these slums within their property. “Each acre of land gets a monthly rent of over ₹2 lakh. There is a nexus of landlords and the garbage mafia that thrives on the poverty and crisis facing these slum-dwellers,” said a police official.

Mr. Limbavali, who has previously also demanded their eviction, said the slum-dwellers were ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’ who are a threat to national security. “I would take strict action on any landowners or construction companies in Mahadevapura constituency if found employing these illegal immigrants. Your act will be termed as a threat to national security and shall be punished as per the Indian Penal Code,” he said on Twitter, adding that a deportation centre would be set up at Sondekoppa.

However, police officials said there was no conclusive proof that there were illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. “They have identity cards issued by the West Bengal government. While it is possible that these cards may have been obtained illegally, it would be a near impossible task to verify the cards of over 5,000 people,” said a senior police official.

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