For families displaced from Ejipura, a majority of whom are Tamil-speaking Christians, this is no season of celebration: many are down with fever and infections.
But for one family, living in a flimsy tent held up by uneven poles and covered by a plastic sheet, Christmas was a day of cheer as a baby was born right there.
On the footpaths near where their houses stood, families are trying to fend off the cold.
“For the first time in 22 years, Christmas seems like a black day,” said P Sateesh (35), who lived in a tin-roof house in Ejipura till the BBMP demolition in January this year.
For many like him, Christmas used to be a big affair in the sprawling slum.
“We used to hold crib-making competitions, invite orchestras and host a football tournament,” he recalled.
About 3,000 families were displaced from the slum to make way for a mall. The BBMP says it will rehabilitate 900 near Sarjapur apart from original allottees. When Express visited the site of the slum, 100 families remained in the vicinity, living on footpaths in tents made of poles and covered with plastic sheets.
A Baby is Born
Nirosha Ravi (20) delivered a baby boy in a tent at 4.30 am on Christmas day. She experienced labour pains at 4 am. Before the family could arrange to take her to hospital, she delivered a boy.
“At 5.30 we rushed her to Vani Vilas Hospital and the duty doctors said both mother and child were in danger because of the conditions in which the delivery took place. But by evening things changed and both mother and baby are healthy,” said Amala Selvan, mother of Nirosha.
Amala described the baby as a “Christmas gift”.
On January 18, the BBMP demolished slums at Ejipura following a High Court order.
The 15 acres and 22 guntas on which the shantytown was located will be developed by Maverick Holdings and Investments, according to an agreement with the BBMP.
Alongside the mall, the BBMP will build 1,512 houses for the poor. People who hold identity cards as original allottees can move in once the project is completed, a BBMP official said. But that is going to be a long way from now.
Births and Deaths
Over the last eleven months, the footpaths have witnessed many births and deaths. Some who couldn’t afford to rent houses elsewhere, are living inside the concrete pipes on the footpaths. “The worst thing is, we have no toilets and have to go out in the open. This is a health hazard. Our community, which was healthy last Christmas, is cursing its fate,” said Gerard, resident of a makeshift tent, in a charged voice.