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Bangalore: Slum clearance project threatens to uproot residents' lives

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - 9:30am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: dna

Residents of Bhuvaneshwarinagar in Uttarahalli want ownership certificates instead of demolition notices.

Residents of Bhuvaneshwarinagar in Uttarahalli want ownership certificates instead of demolition notices. They want individual homes on the land where their hutments stand today and not a living space in a high-rise building.

After days of protest in their neighbourhood, they finally brought their demands to the doorstep of the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board on Tuesday.

Under the JNNURM, the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board is all set to build 840 houses on the land that is home to 420 families. The idea is to accommodate them in three-storey buildings, along with more beneficiaries. This is not acceptable to residents.

 “The construction material is sub-standard and will not last more than 10 years. Where will we go after that,” asked Ashwini J, a beautician living in the area.

 Residents are resisting demolition and notices by the board. “We refused to receive the notices. Authorities said they would be stuck on our doors and our houses will be demolished,” a resident of the settlement said.

 A few families have left the area following the demolitions.
The residents have been watching bigger houses being built around them. Those constructions were not questioned or threatened. However, the residents of Bhuvaneshwarinagar have not received the ownership certificates they were promised by representatives they elected to power.

“In 1972, about 150 to 200 families were given ownership certificates. A few of us still have them. We survived a demolition drive in 1997. In 2002, we had given a petition to the district commissioner to declare this a slum and provide housing to the people. Despite this, a JNNURM project is threatening our entitlement to the land,” said Veerabhadraiah R, 66, who has been living here for over three decades.

The residents have not given their consent to the JNNURM project. Yet, authorities have sidestepped procedures to push for it.
 “Police have been harassing us. The leaders have used foul language to intimidate women. Young men have been threatened to be killed in fake encounters,” said Imran A, a resident of the area.

Lakshmi, another resident, suspects foul play in the death of her 38-year-old husband.

“He did not have any ailments. The cause (of the death) was declared as heart attack and the case was closed,” she said.
Later, she gave `30,000, along with a pair of gold earrings to a local woman who promised to help her get rights on the land. That never happened.

Almost everyone in the settlement was forced to pay to continue living on government land. There has to be an inquiry into this, said RS Shivakumar, a carpenter who has been living here since 1999.

The project was cleared without the consent of the locals and this has to be looked into, the residents said.

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