BENGALURU: “What joy do we have to celebrate this festival (Varamahalakshmi Vratha)? When our wealth is gone, what is the point in worshipping Goddess Lakshmi?” questioned Sridhar, a resident of Ramachandrapura in Yelahanka.
A large portion of his house was razed in BBMP’s demolition drive against encroachments on storm water drains. “We had constructed the house with so many dreams,” he said.
BBMP authorities have stopped demolition of encroachments until Monday owing to Varamahalakshmi festival. But the mood remained gloomy on the festival day with hundreds of families losing their houses or a part of it.
Pradeep Rao, who lives with his family at Avni Sringeri Nagar near Bannerghatta Road, said they sleep in the corridor of their house. “A major portion of house has been razed. Last year, we celebrated the festival with so much of joy. We never expected this. We are in no mood to celebrate now,” he said.
A resident of Akshay Nagar near Kodichikkahalli said her relatives invited her to celebrate the festival. “When everything is fine, we would feel like visiting our relatives and friends. Now, if we go, we will feel like they are making fun of us. So, this year, we decided not to celebrate the festival,” she said.
‘Provide feasible package to families’
Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) has directed the state government to assess the damage caused to families affected by the demolition drive and come up with a feasible package to temporarily relocate them.
Apart from giving prior notices to residents, the government should provide temporary rehabilitation and relocation package with basic amenities (shelter, water and toilets) to families being displaced from their homes.
“Some families whose houses were demolished are reportedly living with no access to food and water. This will have an impact on their children. There is a possibility of diseases spreading. It is the duty of government to secure their welfare,” the commission stated.
KSHRC has also asked the Chief Secretary to submit a compliance report within three weeks.