Migrant workers suffer as water enters tents, sheds 

They allege civic agencies don’t respond with same alacrity as at posh colonies

September 07, 2022 10:24 pm | Updated September 08, 2022 12:36 pm IST - Bengaluru

Flooding in slums near Munnenakolalu and Bellandur. Over 1,500 families have been affected by the torrential rain.

Flooding in slums near Munnenakolalu and Bellandur. Over 1,500 families have been affected by the torrential rain. | Photo Credit: AICCTU

Residents moving out of apartments on Borewell road in Whitefield on Wednesday.

Residents moving out of apartments on Borewell road in Whitefield on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Just behind the line of apartments on Borewell road in Whitefield, lies a migrant workers’ colony essentially a group of around 50 makeshift tents and sheds in which over 300 people live. When those in apartments were using expensive pumping machines, the women here said that they were draining water from their tents with old vessels and plastic bottles and containers.

With no civic officials being pressed into action here, it offered a picture of stark contrast in the way the economically disadvantaged in the city have dealt with the rain havoc when compared to others. Many migrant labourers and union leaders have alleged that the civic agencies haven’t responded to their concerns with the same alacrity as they did to posh residential localities and tech parks.

The slums in Munnekollal, Brookfield, Palyam, Whitefield, and BEML Layout have been severely affected in the recent rainfall. Most of these migrant workers have come to Bengaluru from North Karnataka districts like Ballari, Raichur, and Kalaburagi and mostly work in construction sites. There are also some who have migrated from Anantpur, Chittoor, and other parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, out of which many work as pourakarmikas for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). 

Yet, four days after heavy rain lashed these parts, migrant labour colony in Munnekolal was still flooded. There are no means for people to prepare food or catch a good night’s sleep with water everywhere. Those who live in hundreds of tents alleged that they had received no help from the BBMP. They said that they were being provided food, water, and other necessary items through NGOs and other CSR initiatives. With no options left, some have evacuated the site. 

The grim aftermath of Bengaluru rains
Inundated roads and apartment basements, JCBs clearing encroachments and cleaning up lakes, and tractors carrying people were a common sight around the zone.  | Video Credit: Murali Kumar K

At Brookfield, there were around 65 tents which had been affected by the rains. However, here the residents said that the BBMP authorities had pumped most of the water out. They also alleged that BBMP only helped the pourakarmikas residing there and neglected the other migrant workers. The locals also blamed the tech park at the back of which the tents are put up, for letting the water pumped from their premises into their establishment.  

“We pay rent between ₹500 and ₹1,500 for these tents. The water from Kundalahalli lake has flown till here. Water from almost 5-km radius drains into the Rajakaluve here. Ultimately, we have been burdened. If it starts raining, we ensure that our infants and children stay put in the safety of the temple here. The rest of us have not had a moment’s peace,” explained Sadashivu and Ambarish. 

Some migrant workers in Whitefield said that due to the rain, work had stopped at the construction sites, which meant no daily wage for them. “The BBMP gives us one meal a day. The water level has decreased, but we still cannot cook here. We do not have enough supplies either. What are we supposed to do?” asked Lakshmi, a migrant worker.  

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