More than 6000 people were thrown out of their homes in EWS quarters, Ejipura, Bangalore between 18th and 21st January, 2013. Many residents have been living there for more than 25 years. But in a matter of a few days, there was nothing left as their houses were forcefully demolished to make way for a public private partnership that aims at constructing a shopping mall and a housing complex.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (Bangalore’s municipal body) entered into a contract with the owners of Garuda Mall (Maverick Holdings and Investments) to develop the area. The land in question, however, was originally allotted and legally meant for building houses for the economically weaker sections (EWS). No rehabilitation has been done by either Maverick or the BBMP and thousands of people have been out on the streets, braving the cold, without shelter, water or sanitation.
A Lokayukta enquiry continues against this project, alleging that the deal was illegally awarded to the Maverick group under the Yeddyurappa Government. On 23/11/2006, the Commissioner of the BBMP issued a letter to the Principal Secretary Urban Development Department, raising serious questions in regard to the granting of the contract and its violation of public interest. Worse still, this agreement was drafted without any information reaching the homes of the residents of the site, let alone any consultation or plan for alternative housing for the residents.
The residents of EWS quarters come from historically marginalized, deprived SC/ST and minority communities, and they work long hours for minimum daily wage. A majority have lost their jobs as a result of being away from work guarding their possessions on the road, and many children have not been able to attend school. Senior citizens and pregnant women have been at risk, with one woman dying out in the cold after her home was demolished. Many have steadily been falling ill.
BBMP is trying to justify the transfer of EWS land to a private company by claiming that there is a shortage of funds. However, the same BBMP has not utilised funds meant to build houses for the poor from the Central Government under the JNNURM-BSUP and other schemes, as well as the State Government, citing shortage of land. There is no dearth of money, if the government wants to provide housing for the weaker sections.
I have been volunteering for relief work at EWS since Jan 19th. I witnessed the brutal demolition firsthand and was shocked at how 1500 houses could be demolished abitrarily, without any consultation, resettlement and rehabilitation, to make way for a new shopping mall.
As owners of the popular Garuda mall in Bangalore, Maverick Holdings has a responsibility towards its customers and the citizens of Bangalore.
We demand that Maverick step out of this atrocious deal and cancels the agreement to build a commercial complex on land earmarked for EWS quarters.