DOMLUR:A tailor is finally getting documents for a flat allotted to him by the Bengaluru Development Authority nearly four decades ago.
When he heard the news at the BDA office earlier this week, P A Chandran (76) burst into tears. But his woes are not over yet.
A family has illegally occupied his house and is refusing to vacate it.
Much of the credit for forcing the BDA into action goes to social worker M A Najeeb, who heads Bidugadeya Chirategalu Karnataka, an organisation that fights for the underpriveleged.
After the group heard about Chandran’s struggle last month, it visited the BDA office about 20 times. “Given the harassment I have suffered at the hands of BDA employees, I thought I would go to my grave without getting my ownership documents,” Chandran told Express through his tears.
The minuscule flat in Domlur was allotted to him under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category on November 21, 1977. Located behind the Raghavendra Swami temple in II Phase, it was priced at Rs 17,972.
Chandran had to pay Rs 200 for registration and Rs 5,000 as deposit. Keys were handed to him. The rest was to be paid in instalments.
Over the years
Since Chandran was given accommodation at a tailor shop near Lal Bagh where he worked, he never got to live in his flat.
However, he continued paying BDA the instalments through bank demand drafts. “I could not pay a couple of instalments in 1982 as I was sick and could not work. However, I later paid everything with interest,” he said. He had paid Rs 14,696 by April 1989. Meanwhile, the value of the flat escalated and the price was revised to Rs 41,051. “I received a letter in 1994 stating I had to pay the balance within 45 days if I wanted to take possession of the flat,” he said.
His repeatedly pleaded with the case worker, Muniraju, and undertook countless trips to the BDA to find out how much to pay, but no one responded, he said.
When Express contacted him, Muniraju claimed, “The old file went missing. We could not do anything. It is all fine now.”
Finally, Hemalatha, a sympathetic BDA employee, took pity on him and found out he had to pay Rs 26,355. “I paid this amount on June 13, 2014,” he said, showing photocopies of the DD and the BDA acknowledgement. “It has been a year and a half since that date.”
In desperation, he claims he paid money to Muniraju and a broker called Balakrishnan who offered to help. “I paid Balakrishnan Rs 1.1 lakh after borrowing from friends but he never helped me. I am still paying interest of the loans,” Chandran said.
When Express contacted Balakrishnan, he said, “Yes, 200 per cent I have taken money from Chandran.” He further alleged, “To move a file from one table to another, you need to pay money. You must visit the office in person to understand these things!” A top BDA official admitted off the record, “The tailor has refused to pay bribes. Employees have taken their revenge by removing proof of payment from his files. Since proof was not at hand, we treated the dues as unpaid.” BDA Commissioner T Sham Bhat said, “I have signed the papers a couple of days ago in the name of Chandran.”
Chandran first let his uncle’s family live at his flat without any rent. When they left, he allowed a Kannada teacher to run free classes. “I later gave the keys to a woman to sweep and keep the flat clean. She handed over the flat to someone,” he said. Mohanraj, a man who takes up BDA contracts got wind of Chandran’s situation and occupied the house. “I asked him to leave but he ignored me. He also filed an RTI to see if I had the sale deed. When he realised I didn’t, he handed over the keys to his brother Suresh Kumar, an ambulance driver,” said Chandran. Suresh Kumar’s family filed a case against Chandran alleging he had borrowed money from them. “The sessions court dismissed the case on November 14, 2014, declaring Chandran innocent,” activist Najeeb said. “Once I get the sale deed, I will have ownership proof and can make the family leave,” Chandran said.