January 23, 2013
A day after Home Minister R. Ashok said the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike would be directed to provide temporary relief to those displaced by the demolition of hundreds of sheds at the shantytown in Ejipura here, BBMP passed the buck on saying it all depended on the developer, Maverick Holdings Pvt. Ltd.
The developer, while agreeing that allowing the residents to stay on for two months till school and college examinations are over would be “humane”, said neither the government nor BBMP could take law into their hands and allow it.
“It is for the High Court to decide,” said Uday Garudachar, managing director of Maverick Holdings Pvt. Ltd.
BBMP and Maverick have plans for the 15 acres and 22 guntas of prime property where the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) Quarters once stood. As per the agreement, half the land will be commercially developed, and the remaining will house the 1,512 original allottees of the EWS Quarters that were demolished in 2003.
No shelter, no money
Thousands of families living in cramped sheds at Ejipura were evicted by the BBMP over the past week, their tin sheds razed to the ground. Many are now homeless, unable to raise funds to pay advance and rent for new homes.
While BBMP’s Engineer-in-Chief B.T. Ramesh announced that the civic body would fence the land and hand it over to Maverick, there is some disquiet amongst some officials of the tragedy of the evacuated families.
A senior official who didn’t want his name published told The Hindu the civic authority was considering negotiating with the developer and seeking the court’s permission to allow the residents to stay on in two acres of land for another two months after getting a written undertaking from them that they would go.
The BBMP is now considering providing monetary compensation to around 400 to 500 families who don’t have anything to fall back on. “The Commissioner and Mayor will take a call on it,” a senior official added. Explaining the complexities of the situation, he said the BBMP could not take a unilateral decision for fear of invoking the High Court’s displeasure.
“If the developer does not agree, we will check with the Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) to see if the residents can be allowed to put up sheds at Sooligunte in Sarjapur, at least till the project [to rehabilitate them] takes off.”
The BBMP has handed over five acres of land at Sooligunte for the purpose.
However, Mr. Ramesh, when asked about the alternative arrangements for the displaced families in Ejipura, said: “Where is the land available?” Mr. Ramesh was categorical that BBMP could not force the developer to allocate land temporarily.
“Even if we do find land nearby and allow them to put up temporary sheds, we will find it difficult to evict them after two years when the housing complex for them in Sarjapur is ready.”
Mr. Garudachar said the court had given BBMP a deadline of October 8 last year to evict the residents. “We stalled it for this long. However, the original allottees went to court again. The court then directed the BBMP and police to evict the residents immediately. When this is the case, how can we allow them to stay on?”