JNNURM beneficiaries are now 'care of footpath'

JNNURM beneficiaries are now 'care of footpath'

JNNURM beneficiaries are now 'care of footpath'

 While some of them were lucky enough to be part of the hospitality extended by other generous neighbours of the slum, most of them have converted the foothpaths of the area’s Lazar Road  into their homes.

This is the saga of those beneficiaries for whose benefit, the laudable initiative by the Centre to erect houses for slum-dwellers, has rendered them homeless now. All the 112 houses in the Desheya Nagar slum are being rebuilt under a housing project under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme. Meanwhile, the construction work for 32 houses has already begun.

Transit accommodation

However, while the Mission clearly spells out the need to provide transit accommodation for the dwellers during the construction phase, the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board (KSCB) has not done so.

Taking cudgels on behalf of the slum-dwellers are the two NGOs - Mythri & Grace and CIVIC. Repeated letters have been shot to the top brass of the KSCB, but it has not borne any results, laments Bosco Antony of Mythri & Grace. “The officials have promised to arrange a place of stay for these slum dwellers, but nothing concrete has been done so far. They suggested a few far-off spots, but it is impossible for the families to relocate there, even temporarily, as the slum women generally work as housemaids in the nearby houses and their income is crucial for the family,” Antony said.

Harish of CIVIC points out that it was mandatory for the JNNURM project to come out with a list of beneficiaries, but the Slum Clearance Board has not done so.   The slum-dwellers who have adopted Lazar Road as their abode, have become a spectacle to the passersby. They cook their food on smoky stoves, wash and bathe on the footpaths.
Having had to face so many hardships, these slum dwellers are irritated at the state of affairs. “We trusted the words of the KSCB commissioner that we would be provided alternate accommodation within ten days if we moved out. But he did not keep up his word,” expresses Lakshmi, who works as a housemaid.

Coolie Muthu points out to the 6 ft X 7 ft huts of individual families nearby, who have volunteered to help the homeless.

Lurking danger

Meanwhile, the presence of a  ten-foot deep pit dug at the construction site, with no fencing, is an invitation to disaster. “It is open danger and we dread to think of the day when a child would fall in it,” says Mariamma, another slum dweller.

KSCB Commissioner P Boregowda conceded that the slum dwellers were put to hardships and a solution would be soon arrived at. Assuring that all the 112 houses would be completed within six months, he said that the KSCB tried to give them three locations nearby, but they did not materialise.

One of the lands belonged to the BESCOM, which they refused to hand over, while, another plot belonged to the BBMP in Pottery Town, which the BBMP was not in position to hand over.  And the third location was near a slum and this was opposed by the local MLA, as he felt there were open drains around and apprehended that a tragedy similar to one that befell little Abhishek, could recur. Meanwhile, the slum dwellers turned down locations at Sadaramagala and Laggere stating they were too far off, he added.

The BBMP implements similar housing projects, but they have surplus land to accommodate the dislocated beneficiaries. The commissioner said, “I will be holding talks with the BBMP commissioner on Monday to help us out with land.” 

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