Demolitions changed residents' lives for the worse

Demolitions changed residents' lives for the worse
For Jyothi, who lived in a shanty in Ejipura, the horror of the slum eviction drive in 2013 is still fresh in her memory.

She was pregnant and was due to deliver in three days when the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike bulldozers razed her shanty. “There was no one to salvage my belongings and I was not in a position to lift even a glass of water. Yet, I had to ignore my pain and shift all my belongings with my neighbours’ help,” recalled Jyothi.

Three days later, Jyothi delivered the baby. When she returned from the hospital, the newborn had the open sky as her roof. “We still sleep on the footpath,” Jyothi narrated.

Her neighbour Nusrath delivered her baby on the footpath amid the ruins.

These facts came out at the launch of ‘Bengaluru’s Continuing Inequity’, an eviction impact assessment report of Ejipura four years after its demolition.

The report was prepared by the Housing and Land Rights Network, Fields of View and Forum Against EWS Land Grab.

Second eviction

The Palike had built the quarters for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in 1993-94. The substandard construction did not last for 10 years and in 2003, it came crashing down. Palike officials sensed danger and ordered the eviction of dwellers. But a few people stayed there “illegally”.

The dwellers, who were evicted, had no option but to build shanties nearby and live there. Thus, the flat owners became slum dwellers overnight.

For 10 years, they stayed there till the Palike signed an MoU with Maverick Holdings. The plan was to build a shopping complex on a portion land belonging to the EWS and build quarters for the “slum dwellers”.

Thus followed another round of forcible eviction as the dwellers were not ready to leave the place. The Palike is building quarters for the dwellers at Sulikunte, which is almost ready while the remaining has to be built at Ejipura.

Impact of eviction

Dr Silvia Karpagam, who too was part of the study, said the destruction has led to malnutrition, dehydration, jaundice, rise in addiction and many vector borne and water borne diseases.

“When the eviction happened in 2013, the toilets were the first to be demolished. People who stayed back on the footpath had to walk a long way to answer nature’s call. In their absence, thieves would steal their belongings. Thus, footpath dwellers started drinking less water, which caused them dehydration and diarrhoea,” Dr Silvia said.

Under the sky

She said there were instances when rowdies and even policemen would approach girls and women seeking sexual favours. The study reveals that two children died a week after the eviction as they were running fever but had to spend the night under the sky. At least 22 children dropped out of school while many boys and girls could not pursue their higher studies.

Spending on health decreased drastically as the evicted people had no money to pay for their medical bills. There are still 32 families on the footpath at Ejipura. The caste-based study shows that 80% of the dwellers are Dalits, 10% are minorities and the rest are Vokkaligas and Thigalas.

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