BANGALORE: The inmates of the Beggars’ Rehabilitation Centre on Magadi Road are in for another shocker. The allotment of the Beggar’s Colony land for non-rehabilitation purposes seems to continue despite the recent High Court order that the land should be used for original purpose of rehabilitating the destitutes. In response to an RTI application filed by Express, the Department of Social Welfare has clarified that, through a government order SKE 177 PKE 2011, dated February 10, 2012, the state government has sanctioned the construction of Babu Jagjivan Ram Bhavan at a cost of `12 crore on two acres of the land allotted to Destitute Relief Centre in Magadi Road. In a similar case in January, the High Court had directed the state government to restore the 123 acres of Beggars Colony land allotted by Central Relief Committee to BDA and use it for its original purpose.
Though the proposed building would fall under the ambit of Social Welfare Department, it will not directly benefit the beggars’ rehabilitation in any way, the civil groups are claiming. “The Bhavan will be constructed for the purpose of social welfare of the people. It has nothing to do with the rehabilitation of beggars. Since there is no land available in the city for the construction of Babu Jagjivan Ram Bhavan, this land was allotted,” E Venkataiah, Principal Secretary to Government Social Welfare Department, Government of Karnataka, said.
The land was allocated during the previous government and Rs 3.5 crore was released for the construction of the Bhavan. The initial budgeted cost of construction of the Bhavan was Rs 3 crore in 2007. However, within 5 years, the cost has shot up by 400 per cent and the Department of Public Works, which is entrusted with the construction of the Bhavan, sent a proposal for Rs 12 crore, which the state government approved recently.
Despite the High Court passing order in January, the state government has accorded permission for this project and sanctioned funds in February, according to the information revealed under RTI. Meanwhile, some senior lawyers and civil society groups echoed the same views that, if the building constructed would not be of any use to beggars’ rehabilitation, it would tantamount to violation of the purpose for which the land is set aside. Santhosh P Nargund of Rashtrotthan Sankalp, who has filed a PIL following land allotment to BDA said, though the exact number of beggars in the state is not known, their count is increasing day-by-day and the existing land would not be sufficient for their rehabilitation. “The department should use the land for the rehabilitation of the destitutes,” he observed.