BBMP had built 1512 houses in Viveknagar, Bangalore and distributed them to Economically Weaker Section (EWS) families in 1996. These G+2 EWS quarters were not provided basic facilities like water or toilet. Due to poor quality of construction, the buildings collapsed after 7 years of allotment. The families have been living in tin sheds since then!
BBMP has been demolishing even those tin sheds and forcefully evicting the people since 17.1.2013, in favor of a real estate agency which wants to use the land for commercial development.
The BBMP official, B T Ramesh who was at the spot could not produce any official documents that showed that he and his crew had the authority to demolish structures and evict residents. Nor did he produce any copy of the notification supposedly shared with the residents a month back. Residents report that no notice were issued to them for eviction. In a meeting on 19.1.2013, BBMP Commissioner Siddiah had agreed to stop the demolitions. He called B T Ramesh, the official on the spot, in front of activists and issued verbal directions to stop the demolitions. However, insisting on written orders, the bulldozers are back again today (20.1.2013) to demolish and evict people.
BBMP's bulldozers continued to work diligently through the Sunday (20.1.2012) and most houses have been razed to the ground. Many families are out on the streets, since they do not have the finances or support to re-locate.
Request you to sign this petition to the Chief Minister to stop the evictions immediately and remedy the situation justly.
Based on a plan made in 1983, the Bangalore City Corporation (now Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) in association with HUDCO took till 1993 to construct 1512 residential flats in 42 blocks in a large space of 15.24 acres in the Koramangala marshy area, which was then considered the outskirts of the city. The quality of construction was very poor and even basic facilities like water and sanitation were not provided.
Many allottees continued to live in those poor conditions while some of the allottees rented it out to others who were in a worse off position than them. Thus, these buildings housed a number of poor people who were allotted the house and some very poor families, who stayed on rent in these blocks. In the meantime, the surrounding Koramangala was transforming into a posh and coveted locality in the city with sky rocketing land prices.
Due to poor quality of construction of the EWS quarters, some of the blocks started cracking and collapsed in 2002, killing 3 people. A committee setup by the then Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP, now BBMP) suggested that 21 of the 42 structures be demolished and the rest repaired. Instead, BBMP demolished all 42 blocks, rendering the families living in them homeless. With nowhere to go, more than 1400 families agreed to live in common tin sheds by the side of the demolished quarters. With three to four families made to share one shed, these deprived families consisting of almost 7,000 people braved the social and personal consequences of such an animal like living for almost ten years. The only silver lining was the positive assurance of decent in-situ housing from the state. In 2007, the government (Chief Minister H.D Kumaraswamy and MLA R.Ashok) announced that houses will be built at the same location for all the current residents and issued ID cards to them.
The astronomical land prices of Koramangala attracted real estate agencies who started lobbying for the residents to be removed from the area and to capture the sprawling land. Maverick Holdings was one of the companies which since 2004 was trying to enter into a Joint Venture with BMP to 'develop' this land. Incidentally Maverick Holdings are also the beneficiaries of another Joint Venture Programme on Magrath Road, which was initiated as multiple car park but instead got developed into the Garuda Shopping Mall. Complaints have been lodged against the said project and the said company before the Lokayukta that is seized of the matter presently (Case no.426/2008 with Karnataka Lokayukta).
BMP entered into a contract with Maverick Holdings to develop this land. Interestingly, on 23/11/2006, the Commissioner of the BBMP issued a letter to the Principal Secretary UDD raising serious questions in regard to the granting of the contract, and also highlighted that previous Joint Ventures entered in Magarath Road and Maharaja Complex were not in the interest of the BMP and the BMP interests were subordinate and hence there was a need for a comprehensive review of the entire Joint Venture framework. Thereafter the state government issued an order cancelling the resolution of the BMP which approved this contract. Maverick continued to lobby for the land however and in 2012 entered into a controversial concession agreement with BBMP.
The basic aspects of the agreement are -
- BBMP hand over the entire 15.64 acres of prime area to Maverick Holdings
- Maverick Holdings builds 1640 houses utilising around 7.5 acres of the land
- Around 8 acres of the land will be utilized by Maverick Holdings to build a mall, from which BBMP will get just 1% revenue
The Joint Venture Project and the Concession Agreement is contrary to the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, which does not provide for such transfer of land to a private party. The manner in which the Joint Venture project has been sanctioned from the outset itself is contrary to the procedure prescribed under Section 176 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act. The agreement is unreasonable, arbitrary, unfair and opposed to public policy, public interest and the public trust doctrine. A lokayukta enquiry incidentally has been ordered into this project, alleging that Maverick was awarded this deal illegally by the Yeddyurappa government, in return for favours received (Case no.412/2008 with the Karnataka Lokayukta).
BBMP in collusion with Maverick Holdings has pushed for this ‘Bombay Model’ of redevelopment of slums where the private company is given control of a huge part of prime land in exchange of construction of residential houses for the original inhabitants in a small portion of the land. The high power committee setup in 2003-04 to review this model in Mumbai had ridiculed the model as “a real estate project of the builder, by the builder and for the builder”. In Mumbai, there is widespread opposition from residents to such redevelopment schemes. Despite widespread criticism of this model, the Government of Karnataka is heralding this detrimental model, which will give a free reign for private companies over public land in the name of slum development, claiming it to be a grand success.
Thus, while this land, which was reserved for housing for the economically weaker sections will now house a mall, people who need a house will be thrown to the streets. BBMP is trying to justify the transfer of EWS land to a private company by claiming that there is shortage of funds. However, the same BBMP sent back Rs. 13 crores received last year from the Central Government under the JNNURM-BSUP project, meant to build houses for poor people, citing shortage of land. Apart from JNNURM-BSUP funds, money for building the houses can also be mobilised from the Rajiv Awas Yojana, the 22.75% Special Component Plan for SC/ST communities, 15% funds reserved for minorities and 7.5% reserved for Backward classes. There is no dearth of money, if the government wants to provide housing for the weaker sections.
More than 1400 families who resided in the quarters from the very beginning, and who were promised in-situ housing by the government are now being denied any rights whatsoever. Maverick Holdings is now using brute force and physical intimidation to threaten the residents. People who are resisting efforts to be removed are being beaten up by goons hired by the real estate company.
More than a generation of people have lived in this place in tin sheds, waiting for their right to housing. It is most unfortunate that when there is land and money to build houses for the economically weaker sections, thousands of them will be thrown to the streets and a mall will come up in its place. This is a clear case of land grab which will mostly benefit a corrupt builder, officials and elected representatives while harming the interests of several poor families. This situation must be rectified immediately.
We demand the following action-
- Immediately stop the demolition of temporary shelters and eviction of families. Rehabilitate the evicted families back in their premises.
- Cancel the agreement which transfers the EWS quarters land to a private company
- The allottees and families staying on rent have their hopes pinned on the EWS quarters. Build houses for them in the same land.
- Prosecute those responsible for the collapse of EWS Quarters resulting in the death of three residents
- Order a judicial probe into this issue
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