BANGALORE: Residents of Jai Bhuvaneshwari Nagar slum were in for an unpleasant surprise on Wednesday. They were greeted by more than 100 policemen, two earthmovers and officials from BESCOM and BWSSB - all at the spot to evict them from their houses.
The slum, which stands on land meant for SDM Hospital, has 512 houses and is home to at least 800 people. Most of them are daily wagers and many work as maintenance staff at NIMHANS.
The residents protested in front of their houses, forcing the police to manhandle them, leaving some women and children injured. Around 31 people were taken into preventive custody and released later.
Meanwhile, the High Court, on Wednesday, stayed the eviction of 300 families for a day.
While the issue has been in court for more than a decade now, it was recently that many residents got an order from the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board asking them to vacate the houses before June 7.
The residents said the houses at the rehabilitation colony at Kudlu Gate are unfit for habitation.
“The doors are broken, the windows missing. The walls are all cracked. How do they expect us to stay in that place?”, asked Rajesh, a slum dweller. Many are unwilling to relocate because of the distance.
“It is 30 km from here. Our children’s schools and our places of work are here. We have to walk 3 km to get a bus there. Will the authorities take care of all this?” asked Annamma, another resident. The slum dwellers’ advocate Raghupati said the Board is not equipped to rehabilitate all the residents.
“There are 1,060 houses at Kudlu, of which 540 are already occupied. We have more than 700 families here. What about houses for the rest”, he questioned.
The slum dwellers alleged that the eviction was orchestrated at the behest of Dr Sashidhar Buggi of Rajiv Gandhi Institute Of Chest Diseases, which is adjacent to the slum.
“As a government employee, I have to save government property and as a doctor, I am bound to save human health. The people are living in unhygienic conditions and they deserve a better place with basic amenities. Besides this, the Slum Board was directed by the High Court to rehabilitate them after one Krishna Bhat had filed a PIL in 1998. The government has spent `13 crore to build houses for the slum dwellers”, Dr Buggi maintained.
After the protest, the residents realised that their power lines had been cut.
“When they installed meters and gave us Aadhaar cards, didn’t they know this was a slum?” Annamma said.
“We have been living here for more than 60 years now. How can we just pack our bags and leave the place?” questioned Shekhar, an auto driver.
KSCB to Evict Them by Saturday
N P Balraju, Chief Executive Engineer, Karnataka Slum Clearance Board (KSCB), visited the area and said the eviction would be stopped for a day.
“We have already made it clear that the residents will have to leave by June 7,” he said.