Ragigudda slum dwellers face rodents and red tape

Ragigudda slum dwellers face rodents and red tape

Ragigudda slum dwellers face rodents and red tape

 As night falls, Chellamma, an octogenarian, prepares for the assails of the inevitable nocturnal pests. Except that these are no ordinary pests. On many nights, Chellamma and her family find their small home overrun by rats.

Chellama is half blind and there are no lights in the single room which consitutues the family’s home in Ragigudda slum. Even worse, the room has only three walls, leaving the family exposed to the elements.

To create a fourth wall, they have tied a tarpaulin sheet to cover the exposed section, and braced it with cardboard. Many hope to be given new homes within a month’s time, blissfully unaware that the respite they hope for has been delayed for another year.

Under an original project proposed by the Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB), Chellamma’s family and nearly 500 other slum families were due to receive proper housing. But now the Board has extended the housing project to 2014, which means that the families will have to endure their current conditions till then.

Under the original proposal by the KSDB, residents of Ragigudda slum were to be provided transitory accommodation in a site adjacent to a public park in JP Nagar for only a year. Many were promised regular homes before the end of December 2011. When that deadline passed, the KSDB then promised that the new homes would be ready by August 15, Independence Day. With the last deadline having passed, many slum dwellers have clung to the hope that homes will be ready before the end of October.

In all, 1,500 houses have been planned, under the Jawarlahal Nehuru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNurm). The project comes with an estimated price tag of Rs 32 crore. But many houses have not been built, leading the delays, according to the Board’s technical director, Sannachittaiah. “The project has been extended till December 2014. But 500 houses will be completed in a month from now,” he said.

The delays have created anguish among slum residents. Many said that the ‘one month’ promise has been one too many, and complained that their stay in temporary accomodations for over three years has taken a toll on family and health.

Unable to bear the inhuman conditions of living here, those families which could afford to move have shifted out, explained Ramesh, a college student who lives here. “Others, who work as labourers in surrounding areas, have been forced to live here. Their day begins at 2 am, standing in a long queue for drinking water in front of a public tap. Kitchens are located on the narrow path which separates two rows of houses.

Footpath to defecate

Almost 10 homes share a single toilet. Mostly, they have to make use of the footpath to defecate. They wash and dry clothes and utensils by the roadside, he added. Other residents said that they have suffered from ill health ever since they were sent to Ragigudda slum. “After we moved here, fever and colds are common.

Some of the children have been getting skin allergies,” said Manjula, whose two-year-old daughter has also been a victim of skin allergy. “They begin as rashes but later develop into an infection. But by far, rat bites are the most common of all.”

Residents claim that they have been silenced by local leaders. To avoid further persecution, many spoke to Deccan Herald on the condition of anonymity, and all names in this article have been changed to protect interviewees. Beneficiaries of the Ragigudda slum rehabilitation project added that they have been forced to wait in silence for the government to take them out of the misery.

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