BANGALORE: Rajajinagar dhobi ghat is situated between ISKCON Temple and Narayana Netralaya. Washermen at this dhobi ghat are in a dilemma, that is, whether to revel about the location of the dhobi ghat or curse themselves for their haplessness in preventing the influential people encroaching it.
According to Y S Shankar, General Secretary, Bangalore North Madiwalara Mahajana Sangha, the size of the dhobi ghat has shrunk to 3 acres and 20 guntas from eight-and-half acres. “We are facing a lot of problems from encroachers. A religious organisation had attempted to convert the dhobi ghat into a lake. Even, a private hospital has been trying to convert a portion of the vacant land beside the storm water drain into a parking lot. We have succeeded in keeping them at bay with the support of Minister for Urban Development S Suresh Kumar and Deputy Mayor Harish. We are grateful to them,’’ says Shankar.
The other major problem of washermen is that they are yet to realise their long-pending ambition of having shelter at the dhobi ghat.
“We are grateful to Minister Suresh Kumar for taking an initiative to develop a concrete road on dhobi ghat premises. The proposal to construct houses for washermen has been pending for quite long time. We came to know that the proposal to construct 198 houses has been approved by the Slum Clearance Board and the construction of the houses to commence shortly,’’ says Shankar.
It was alleged that politics have prevented the development of dhobi ghat. A few years ago, Bangalore Urban Zilla Panchayat had allocated `12 lakh to construct a community hall on the dhobi ghat premises but a few politicians played the spoilsport. “The Bangalore Urban ZP had released only `5 lakh to construct rest rooms,’’ says Shankar.
The washermen are grateful to Deputy Mayor Harish for taking an initiative to dig a borewell. However, the BBMP authorities are yet to equip the borewell with electric water pump. "It will be a great help in summer. Last summer, we bought water to wash clothes," says a washerman.
The BBMP had taken up the construction of a retaining wall to a storm
water drain at the dhobi ghat but the work is progressing at a snail’s pace. Around 200 washermen families from Malleswaram West, Mathikere, Rajajinagar, Peenya, Dasarahalli depend on this dhobi ghat for washing clothes.
Will the construction of the houses for washermen begin shortly? The washermen have to wait and watch.