'20 yrs on, relief still eludes them'

About 11 families who have been residing on the government colony in Kuttettur village and lost the houses for MRPL, have not received compensation even after 20 years, said Human Rights Protection Foundation President Dr Ravindranath Shanbhag.

Speaking to presspersons here on Saturday, he said that 11 families were residing on survey number 175/2 in Kuttettur village since 1972. Upon availing a loan of Rs 4,000 from the Karnataka Housing Board, Subraya Acharya and 10 other residents, all landless labourers had constructed their houses in the land allotted to them.

In the year 1989, the government decided to acquire about 800 acre land for the setting up of MRPL. All the house sites falling in survey number 175/2 were notified for acquisition. However, without following due process of law, the residents of the colony were forcefully evicted from their houses and the houses were demolished in their absence when they had gone for work on May 12, 1993.

As per the rehabilitation package announced by the government, each displaced person was given Rs 20,000, relocation to alternative site at Chelyaru, monetary compensation and employment for one person in MRPL project itself. However, the 11 families were not given anything,” he said.

Dr Shanbhag said that the authorities had demolished all the houses except an ‘ashwatha tree’ which was next to the colony. Tukaram, Appi Poojari, Kamalakka and other residents of the colony identified the remainants of their demolished homes like windows, doors from the debris.

Following the demolition, the inmates of 11 houses kept visiting the office of land acquisition and MRPL seeking the compensation due to them. However, the MRPL and land acquisition authorities refused to provide any rehabilitation unless the displaced residents furnished proof of title deeds, which they fail to understand the fact that it was a part of the debris that stood following the demolition.

“As the displaced residents were illiterate, they did not know how to obtain the title deeds which were destroyed during demolition. However, upon obtaining confirmation deed from the patel of the village, Subraya Acharya was relocated to an alternative site. However, the monetary compensation and compensation in lieu for not opting for MRPL employment was never provided. Out of the 11 residents, three residents have passed away. The whereabouts of Dhoomanna’s son Tukaram and Balkrishna remain unknown,” he said.

Dr Shanbhag said that the Karnataka Housing Board in its letter dated May 23, 1992 intimated that since the displaced residents had availed loan to construct homes, they had mortgaged the properties by way of deposit of original title deeds and subsequently the said title deeds pertaining to the land of the displaced residents were with the KIADB, which Human Rights Protection Foundation availed under RTI Act, 2005. From the details obtained, the displaced families owe a sum of Rs 1,38,135 to the Karnataka Housing Board in lieu of the loan availed by them to construct houses.

Accordingly, the Special Land Acquisition Authority wrote to the MRPL that it should pay the said dues to the Karnataka Housing Board as to get the original title deeds released which will then result in the rehabilitation package being released to the displaced residents.

Far from paying the loan amount to the KHB, the MRPL instead requested the board to waive off the repayment of the loans due to it, he added.  When the 11 families approached the SHRC, the MRPL said: “We are being harassed in the name of compensation. It is a old case which should be dropped.”

He urged the government to provide compensation for the families, along with interest before the government starts acquiring land for any other new projects.

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