In BN Jalihal, a decade of being homeless

Shantavva, 70, at her temporary shelter in BN Jalihal near Pattadakal in Bagalkot district. DH Photo/Pushkar V

Shantavva, 70, was among the 50 families that took residence at a temporary shelter in BN Jalihal, near Pattadakal, Bagalkot district, after the devastating 2009 floods.

A decade later, she is still there, living precariously on forest land that has become her permanent home. 

“Whoever lost houses were given houses a few months later. Since we lived in a rented accommodation, we weren’t allotted any houses as relief and were left to live in these tin sheds,” she says.

Now, the 15 families that have been left are allegedly in regular conflict with the forest department over issues such as constructing brick or mud walls for the tin sheds they have been residing in.

Yet, living in these 'homes', they have been successful in securing Aadhaar cards along with a water tank and power supply.

The forgotten

Shantavva’s neighbour Manjula complains that their petitions have not been heard.

Despite regulations against cement structures inside the temporary shelters of 2009, she says they have been forced to reinforce the houses with cement poles due to fears that the rotting wooden poles would collapse on them.

Opposite the shelter are the 'Asare' houses built to accommodate the victims of 2009. The 600-square-foot houses, too, are not in the best of shape, with rarely used toilet rooms behind them.

“Many houses were lying vacant here. Now, a few of them have been occupied by those who lost houses recently,” says Sikandar, a resident of the colony.

Hundreds of homeless families, who were lodged at rented accommodations in flood-hit villages during the recent floods, and now taking refuge at temporary shelters, fear a similar fate.

Sangappa Goudar, now housed at shelters behind the Primary Healthcare Centre in Pattadakal, 6-km from BN Jalihal, alleges harassment by hospital authorities.

“They won’t allow us to pick dry wood for cooking nor wash clothes or bath here. Where are we supposed to do that,” he asks.

Another resident Susheelavva, who is also living in a rented house, worries about the future. “We couldn’t get a house under any schemes all these years. Will we get a house now,” she asks.

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