Karnataka

Row upon row of empty houses at Nava Talamari

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There are no takers for the alternative settlements built by the government after the 2009 floods in north Karnataka

Nava Talamari village is almost like a ghost town. Over 1,000 houses have remained unoccupied for over eight years. They are overrun with weeds and the roofs and walls are crumbling. Amidst this ruin are a few houses — about 60 — that are occupied.

This is the setting of the alternative settlement built by the Government of Karnataka on the banks of the Tungabhadra in Raichur district after the devastating floods of 2009.

On November 19, 2011, as many as 1,200 houses in Nava Talamari were handed over by the then Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda to the flood-hit people of Bichale and Talamari villages. Today, as several parts of north Karnataka are just recovering from another round of floods this year, most of the houses built by Bengaluru-based Cisco Systems eight years ago at a cost of ₹1 lakh to ₹1.5 lakh each, are in a state of ruin.

The intensity of the October 2009 floods in the region forced the people to flee their homes. The government had difficulty in reaching some of the worst-affected villages, including Kududarahal, Hacholli, Matur in Siruguppa taluk (Ballari), Shaliganur, Hiresindogi in Koppal district, Talamari, Bichhale, Burdipadu and several villages in Raichur district.

Back then, government officials and elected representatives had to face the ire of the flood-hit people as relief took time to reach them. Three vehicles were set ablaze in Talamari.

Design and quality

Built houses remaining unoccupied is not typical to Nava Talamari alone. Those built for the flood-hit in Ballari, Raichur, and Koppal districts have remained vacant as their design and quality have been suspect. Here, people chose to continue staying in their old houses.

When this reporter visited Talamari for the second time in 10 years, except for a handful, the majority of the villagers were in the old village. In Bichale too it was the same.

In both villages, the donors (Cisco) built schools as well. Interestingly, the schools are functioning. In Hacholli (Siruguppa) the entire layout of 1,200 houses is empty. The status in Matur (Siruguppa) and Shaliganur (Gangavathi) is slightly better. Bharat Mines and Minerals (BMM) had taken care of the house constructions in Hacholli and Matur.

Back then, the government had acquired agricultural land from the people, paying up to ₹4 lakh per acre for rehabilitation. Now the land is neither being used for agriculture nor for rehabilitation.

Reasons for not shifting

“Yes, we have taken the houses allotted to us, but we have not shifted,” admitted Hanumanthappa, a paddy grower of Shaliganur. He lives in a house located close to his farmlands as the new house is quite far.

“In the last 10 years, floods did not recur. Why should we leave our house built to suit our requirements?” he said.

At Hacholli Subbu said, “Our old houses are more comfortable.” His village suffered the worst floods both in 1992 and 2009.

The villagers of Talamari maintained that the houses allotted were small, enough for a family of three persons. “We are all agriculturists with cattle to look after. How can we go and settle in tiny structures?” said Thimmaiah of Talamari.

(This is the first of a

two-part series on the state of settlements in north Karnataka that were built post-2009 floods)

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 12:09:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/row-upon-row-of-empty-houses-at-nava-talamari/article30064185.ece

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