Bangalore: Demolition of EWS Quarters, Latest Updates

January 21, 2013

This page collects the latest information of the demolition of Economically Weaker Section (EWS) housing in Bangalore.
- Editors

Updates as of January 21, 2013
Report of planning meeting post press conference
As reported earlier, all of the arrested people have been released on bail. One of the arrested women said she was kicked and beaten up a bit shortly after the arrest but this stopped when she threatened to hold the abusive (female) cop accountable if the brutality didn’t cease. Another woman has a fractured leg.

All the remaining structures in the EWS quarters were razed to the ground last night, and levelling operations are going on now. The people staying on the premises (about 200 families, according to a rough estimate) have been ordered to vacate by 5pm; don’t know on what basis. The high court had apparently ordered eviction of these families as “encroachers”, but request for a stay order had been filed (on the basis, among others, that the high court had been given wrong information) and was to come up for hearing shortly. Perhaps this explains the hurried demolition and attempted eviction. a delegation was to meet the Chief Secretary at 4pm today. It was tentatively decided that the delegation would protest the illegality of the demolition, but the Chief Secretary was expected to hide behind the high court ruling. at the very least, the following demands were to be made in the meeting with him:

i) withdrawal of all cases against the arrested women (who are now out on bail), and censure of the police action
ii) grace time of a few months (until end of school year) for the EWS people to find alternate housing arrangements.
iii) provision of temporary accommodation of the EWS people in homeless shelters and the like.

People at the planning meeting were very skeptical about anything positive coming out of the meeting with the Chief Secretary, so some alternate arrangements were also discussed:

i) finding places that can house the remaining ~ 200 families. These are about the neediest, who haven’t been able to make any alternate arrangements. this is in contrast to some other families who have been able to muster the 10k-15k needed to find alternate accommodation — typically, a room — in other slums. One activist working with and making a list of the neediest families in the area has now been barred from that vicinity; however, others were en route and are probably there at the location now.

ii) in their desperation to find alternate accommodation, some people have turned to moneylenders to make up for the shortfall in the 10k-15k advance payment. the interest charged is at the rate of 20% *per month*. so, every effort to be made to ensure that none of them fall prey to moneylenders. it was estimated that each family would probably be short by 5k, so as a comrade put it, it is simply a matter of finding 200 families who can spare 5k each. of course, this is in addition to whatever is needed for the EWS people’s immediate sustenance.

The primary concern at the planning meeting was about how and where the remaining ~ 200 families spend the night, so there wasn’t much discussion about the stay order (and other follow-up legal measures).

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Update as of January 20, 2013
All 21 women were released today after bail was granted by a special magistrate in the morning. Many of the women were beaten before their arrest yesterday by male police. There is a press conference tomorrow at 1.30 PM at the Bangalore Press club. The next court hearing is on Tuesday.

Update as of January 19, 2013
20 women were sent to judicial custody until Tuesday. Through the day we were given the impression that they were all likely to be released but they were instead produced in the court in late afternoon and the judge refused them bail for violating a high court order.
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PRESS RELEASE
Demolition of EWS quarters and the Eviction of Residents
Saturday, January 19, 2013, Bangalore

The BBMP today began demolition of homes and evicting residents from the EWS quarters at Ejipura. During the process of demolition and eviction protestors were lathi charged, physically dragged by the police and arrested – all of them women. They have been remanded to judicial custody till next Tuesday. These women have been separated from their families and homes, and cannot protect their shelters and belongings from the demolition bulldozers.

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. Notices which the BBMP claimed were pasted on the houses, were not visible on any of the houses. All the residents that we spoke to had not been notified and were unaware of this demolition drive.

In a meeting with the BBMP Commissioner today, Mr. Siddaiah agreed to stop demolitions of the occupied homes and to give a time period of 3 months for evacuation. In fact, Mr. Siddaiah called BT Ramesh in presence of activists and EWS residents. However, the demolition continued unabated; Mr. Ramesh insisted on a written order from Commissioners office, who conveniently disappeared by then. As of this afternoon, the police had given a 6 pm notice to the residents to clear their belongings. As of now, it is reported that as many as 500 homes have been razed to the ground by the BBMP bulldozers today. Many families are out on the streets, since they do not have the finances or support to re-locate. Children whose mothers were arrested are in streets – searching them. Women cry helpless, not knowing where to take their young and old.

We, the members of civil society, representing different organisations (PUCL, PDF, and Concern) condemn the deplorable and inhuman way the demolitions, police violence and evictions have been implemented. We call for an immediate and complete halt to the eviction of residents and the demolition of occupied homes in the EWS quarters. We further demand that all charges against the residents and activists be dropped.

Right to shelter is one of the principle rights enshrined in Article 21 of our constitution. A state, under no circumstance, has a right to go against either the letter or the spirit of this right without providing alternative arrangements for all those it renders homeless. Further the police protection of demolitions does not legitimise its use of brute force and physical violence against the weakest in our society – who are but protesting, losing their all.

Issued by: People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), People’s Democratic Forum (PDF) & Concern – Bangalore
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Pictures from the Jan 19th demolition and protest

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Update as of January 18, 2013

Dear Comrades.
Today BBMP conducted a demolition drive in EWS Quarters, Koramangala, Bangalore. Residents fought valiantly against eviction and were lathi charged by police and some were taken to Adugodi police station. The demolition crew cut electricity lines and even tried to destroy the 5 bathrooms used by 1500 families! At that stage we militantly protested, sitting in front of the bulldozers. The demolition of many other homes was halted this way but the police repeatedly bullied the people saying “You are small people, we are here to protect the demolition crew who are clearing homes for the company”. The bulldozers were gheraod but then the demolition crew were sent on foot with poles and hammers to clear the tin shed homes. Due to the small number of people who got to know and were mobilized in the middle of the day when many are at work, we could only prevent 1 demolition at a time and some demolitions quietly happened simultaneously in other parts of the slum without us even being aware. Several people are now without a roof over their head in the biting cold, many families with multiple infants under the age of two, sitting outside their former homes with a small set of possessions accumulated over 10-30 years of living here.

Tomorrow we will be fighting demolition on the ground (Tin shed settlement opposite National Games Village main gate, Ejipura/Koramangala, Bangalore) and also there will be a simultaneous protest in front of the BBMP office with people’s organisations across Karnataka from 10.30 am. on 19th of Jan 2013.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON EWS QUARTERS:

In 1984 BBMP built 1512 houses in Viveknagar, Bangalore and distributed them to Economically Weaker Section families in 1996. These G+2 EWS quarters were not provided basic facilities like water or toilet. Due to rampant corruption in building the quarters, the buildings started cracking after 5 years and collapsed after 7 years of allotment. Three persons including a child died in the building collapse and several were injured.

A committee setup by BBMP suggested that 21 of the 42 structures to be demolished and the rest repaired. But BBMP forced all people to vacate the buildings and demolished all the structures with an intention to handover the land to private companies. It is primarily because the people residing here were largely belonging to SC, ST and minority communities, daily wage laborers, that BBMP took all such decisions. Meanwhile, people (both allottees and tenants) were forced to live in huts with tin sheds for many years.

In a site where 3000 houses could be built, BBMP has signed a MoU with a private company to build 1640 houses (G+9 multi storeyed) and intend to distribute only to the original allottees. Already 22 acres of prime land has been given to the notorious Garuda Mall as a result of huge corruption from top to bottom. The company will be building the houses in 40 % land and build a commercial complex in the other 60% land. BBMP Officials have managed to reach a compromise with the EWS allottees and the company to completely evict the thousand and odd families living their without any form of rehabilitation, in spite of the BBMP promise of building in-situ houses for them. This is clearly an act of land grab. This is nothing but an action of plundering the land reserved for the housing of Dalits and Minorities. The residents do not have the money to pay the advance of Rs. 30-40,000 required to live in even the smallest dwelling of a slum being daily wage earners, and this is the move of a government more interested in the well being of the already rich Garuda Mall owners than the EWS quarters residents who work as garbage cleaners, construction workers, domestic workers, and are paid next to nothing for their strenuous daily wage labor.

The EWS residents with strong support from various peoples’ organisations have demonstrated stiff resistance for this combined land grab enacted by BBMP and the private company.

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Update as of January 10, 2013

The struggle of the EWS (Economically Weaker Section) residents in Ejipura, Bangalore to defend their right to land and housing is historical as it is representing not just one struggle against one slum eviction but a unique process of asserting the sovereignty of urban deprived communities in south India for their right to city and for a life with dignity. In the context of resisting an impending attack of eviction upon the struggling people of EWS quarters, we are planning a massive march between all slums of Bangalore culminating in a rally upon the EWS quarters grounds, in resistance of corporate loot from urban deprived communities.

BBMP officials have worked in connivance of the private builder –the notorious Garuda mall led Maverick holdings and investments –by handing over 22 acres of prime land to them with the plan to evict the residents there. They have cheated them by suppressing vital facts from the high court to dubiously obtain an order that totally rejects the right of the present residents. The people living in EWS continue to fight all the forces behind this `Great Land Robbery` which transfers Dalit and Minorities Lands to Private Company by BBMP. The writ petitions filed by the residents in the high court of Karnataka have questioned the entire process of governance that runs against the Urban Deprived Communities, and the sustained struggle of the EWS residents against this ‘great land robbery’ for the last one year has acted as a point of convergence of all concerned with the people living in slums in Bangalore and Karnataka.

This conference on 20th Jan is a move where the urban deprived communities converge at EWS to express complete solidarity and occupy the EWS land to claim that the EWS residents are the rightful owners of the land and occupy it and clearly tell the state and all its neo-institutions that they are rallying to claim their rightful share in the city. The program for this rally and march requires some financial help and through this we appeal to every pro-people individuals and organisations to stand in support of this crucial process. Below we out line our budget, and provide some background information on the struggle in EWS Quarters and the situation faced by slum dwellers throughout the city and state.

The Land Sharing Plan that destroyed poor people of Mumbai and transferred poor peoples` Lands to Private companies and this anti people phenomena is entering Bangalore /south India. What is our response to such anti social justice measures of the ruling Government?

We also appeal to extend every kind of resource support at your disposal to make this summit to discuss such possibilities a grand success.

For communication:

Shantha Mary
9880975225

Issac Arul Selva
9480452037

R. Prabhakar
9449820566
prabhakar.rajendran@gmail.com
slumjagatthu@gmail.com

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON EWS QUARTERS:

In 1984 BBMP built 1512 houses in Viveknagar, Bangalore and distributed them to Economically Weaker Section families in 1996. These G+2 EWS quarters were not provided basic facilities like water or toilet. Due to rampant corruption in building the quarters, the buildings started cracking after 5 years and collapsed after 7 years of allotment. Three persons including a child died in the building collapse and several were injured.

A committee setup by BBMP suggested that 21 of the 42 structures to be demolished and the rest repaired. But BBMP forced all people to vacate the buildings and demolished all the structures with an intention to handover the land to private companies. It is primarily because the people residing here were largely belonging to SC, ST and minority communities, BBMP took all such decisions. Meanwhile, people (both alotees and tenants) were forced to live in huts with tin sheds for many years.

In a site where 3000 houses could be built, BBMP has signed a MoU with a private company to build 1640 houses (G+9 multi storeyed) and intend to distribute only to the original allottees. Already 22 acres of prime land has been given to the notorious Garuda Mall as a result of huge corruption from top to bottom. The company will be building the houses in 40 % land and build a commercial complex in the other 60% land. This is clearly an act of land grab. This is nothing but an action of plundering the land reserved for the housing of Dalits and Minorities.

The EWS residents with strong support from various peoples’ organisations have demonstrated stiff resistance for this combined land grab enacted by BBMP and the private company. The BBMP Officials have managed to reach a compromise with the EWS allottees and the company to completely evict the thousand and odd families living their without any form of rehabilitation, in spite of the BBMP promise of building in-situ houses for them. BBMP has also issued them the necessary identity cards and the people living there possess their voter ids and ration cards to prove their claim. The BBMP managed to suppress the vital information from the high court of Karnataka and procuring a judgement in their favour and evict the EWS residents without any rehabilitation.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON SKEWED DEVELOPMENT OF BANGALORE CITY
The comprehensive Development Plan of Bangalore city, the unconstitutional bodies (that undermine the urban local bodies) like BATF, ABIDe, Urban Development department , the department of municipal administration, the KUIDFC, are working in perfect co-ordination, and driven by the corporate interests are tampering the governance process resulting in robbing, denying and depriving the UDC from all necessary basic resources for alife with dignity. Education, health, transport/traffic, water supply and sanitation, solid waste management, infrastructure, taxation, administration and governance are all reversed to benefit the dominant caste –capitalism abetting the corporate plunder of public resources.

The urban deprived communities (slum dwellers, street vendors, sex workers, auto drivers, house keepers, domestic workers, hotel workers, sweepers, unorganized workers, beggars, hamalis, and construction workers etc) continue to face the worst challenges from the combined force of politicians, real estate land – builder mafia, urban-planners and policy makers, corporate managers, bureaucrats and local dallal leaders. The Brahman – Bania ruling collusion has imposed new types of slavery and destitution for the vast majority of the people in the country.

The pro corporate policies of both central and state governments have emerged to grab every natural resources especially land , water , mineral, budget , market and all other vital public resources. The economic policies promoting Corporate Capitalism has undermined the fundamental principles of equality, liberty, fraternity and social justice enshrined in our constitution. This phenomenon has further dispossessed the historically deprived communities like SC/ST, OBC and converted religious minorities. The multinational corporate companies and their countries have looted the resources of the country devastating the agriculture and killing the vast rural economy and chasing crores of rural population to urban centers as destitute and internal refugees. Denying them access to basic resources for livelihood and dignified survival. Through disinvestments and privatizations imposed in every sector in the country, global capitalist forces have taken control of our governance that has led to open corruption in combined loot of our resources ` leaving 78 % of our people below poverty line , who are unable to earn even Rs 20/- a day ` – as per the study conducted by the National Planning Commission.

The politics of development have thrown lakhs of rural poor converted as destitute and pushed them to the cities. Dictated by the principles of market fundamentalism, the people are internally displaced from villages to cities deprived of their minimum livelihood resources. Even after moving to the urban centres/cities these historically deprived/ dispossessed communities are blatantly denied of a life with dignity. The neo-institutions of governance, manipulated representations of these communities provide an environment where these urban deprived communities are continuously evicted either from their place of livelihood, dwellings or places inherited.

Most of the elected representatives in Bangalore city are from real estate mafia background. Their direct/indirect link with the builders, real estate sharks, politicians who are hunting every inch of public land, resources have created huge pressure on the urban land use. The combined neglect of elected representatives and the bureaucrats in ensuring the urban deprived communities or sustained in poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition as they are treated beneficiaries, burden to the government. While retaining them in the rat holes or segregated settlements called slums and nailing them in the cross cheap labour, neglect and denial of dignity.

The caste inherited Indian capitalism married with western imperialist /corporate forces have always felt the Indian constitution is a burden on their hunch back. The principles of equality, Social justice and freedom are thrown to wind to weave the cobweb of semi-slavery while chanting the mantras of modernity. Their greed do not allow them to spare even minimal survival resources for these UDCs. The deprived communities in urban areas are working and running the cities have inherited right over all the shares in every resources in cities(Land-natural resources, livelihood, financial-budget, market, and all such) In the name of building urban infrastructure like metro rail, malls/complexes, flyovers, under passes, bus stations, road widening, townships even small bits of land possessed by UDCs are grabbed with no suitable rehabilitation or namesake rehabilitation basically telling them that you have no right to city. Hence, the tricks like land sharing are played with. Multi-storeyed structures with tiny houses are built to forcibly push the UDCs outside the cities. The wealthy migrants/traders/ corporate houses are given importance with priority where the working masses from SC/STs, OBCs and converted minorities are cleansed out of cities.