Arrack shops to be moved out of slums

Bangalore April 15. Arrack and toddy shops and also shops of pawnbrokers and moneylenders, a fair sprinkling of which can be seen in any slum not only in the City but also elsewhere, will soon become a thing of the past.

This transformation is expected to take place as the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board has decided to make use of the provision of the Karnataka Slum Areas Improvement and Clearance Act, 1978, empowering it to remove what is described as dangerous or offensive trades from slums.

According to the Act, dangerous or offensive trade includes trade in arrack or toddy or other intoxicants, pawn broking or money lending whose removal the board could order. The intention behind the provision is to ensure that slum dwellers are not lured into bad habits, but it has remained only on paper.

However, the board has now decided to act and has issued notices to these trades. As a result, some of them have shifted their business. The Excise Department, whom the board approached, had promised that licences for liquor shops issued earlier on the strength of no objection certificates would not be renewed from the new excise year.

The board, according to its Chairman, C.R.Narayanappa, apart from this step to ensure that the slum dweller does not waste his money on liquor and gambling, has utilised the services of heads of maths to inculcate virtues. It has also enlisted the support of Red Cross and other voluntary organisations to promote small family norms among slum dwellers.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Narayanappa said the board had constructed 10,312 houses for slum dwellers under the Valmiki Ambedkar Scheme. (Under the scheme, the Centre bears half the cost of construction — Rs.58 crore). The balance was in the form of loan to beneficiaries from HUDCO for which the State Government stood guarantee.

The board had now taken up construction of another 23,000 houses under the scheme in the State. Construction was likely to be completed by August-September this year. Funds required for providing basic infrastructure in the new areas would be borne by the State Government.

The objective was to ensure that slum dwellers in the 2,697 undeclared slums were covered before 2005. The scheme in respect of those in the 2000 undeclared slums would be taken up thereafter, Mr. Narayanappa said.

Referring to infrastructure in the new areas, he said a Rs.753-crore programme had been formulated by the Government. Assistance would be sought from the Japanese International Cooperation Bank to provide road, water supply, drainage and sewerage facility in 21 cities other than Bangalore.

Pending its clearance by the Centre, the Board had obtained a loan of Rs.276 crore from HUDCO to implement the first phase of the scheme at a cost of Rs.68 crore. The second phase would be taken up in July.

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