Caught between floods and govt 'hovels'

The crumbling Ashraya houses at Kamatagi village in Bagalkot. DH Photo/Pushkar V

For about 200 families in Kamatagi town panchayat — mostly Scheduled Castes — the recent deluge has poured misery on them for a second time. After the floods destroyed their houses a decade ago, the government had built them new homes. But none of them moved in.

The poorly constructed homes, locals complain, were uninhabitable, forcing them to remain in their original homes, but only to face the wrath of the floods again. As the villagers cleared cakes of black soil after the waters receded, they helplessly watched the 201 houses that were built for them a safe distance away from flood-prone areas — unoccupied and overgrown by weeds. 

The homes were constructed under the Ashraya scheme for victims of floods in 2007 and 2009 when B S Yediyurappa was the chief minister. Ironically, Yediyurappa is the CM now. 

That the government’s housing initiative remains unused cuts right at the heart of how such post-calamity efforts are riddled with shortcomings. 

Speaking to DH, Laxman Madhav, a resident of the town panchayat said that of the 201 houses built after the 2009 floods, 96 were distributed while 105 were still unclaimed. “But no one lives in the houses built under the Ashraya scheme as they are sub-standard,” he said. 

Venkatesh, who was cleaning up his place, raised health concerns. “Water from Malaprabha river flooded several parts of the town for a whole week, killing many animals. The carcasses are yet to be disposed of.”

The Ashraya houses lack basic facilities like toilets, due to which they decided not to move in, he said. A complaint was also filed against some villagers for allegedly trying to demolish the houses after many refused to move in. 

One of the major reasons why the families refused to move in was that the title deeds provided to them did not allow them to modify the houses, according to a resident who did not wish to be named. 

The uninhabited colony lying in the south-eastern part of Kamatagi is now overgrown with wild shrubs. The desolate houses, close to the school, are often frequented by anti-social elements, locals complained. Bagalkot MP P C Gaddigoudar and Bagalkot MLA Veeranna Charantimath, who visited the affected areas, said steps will be taken to shift the affected villagers. “Several houses have been repeatedly affected over the years. To prevent such losses in future, we will convince the villagers to move in,” Charantimath said.

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