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10 Years on, 1,512 Dilapidated and Razed Homes for Poor in Bengaluru yet to be Rebuilt

The contractor, a BJP MLA, has not rebuilt the houses despite a 2012 High Court order. The affected families plan to protest on June 20.
Mariyappa, N Krishna and Alibaba address a press conference on June 9

Mariyappa, N Krishna and Alibaba address a press conference on June 9

It is a story of crumbled houses and hopes—and the affected are among the most marginalised communities, most of them being dalits and Muslims. In 1993, as many as 1,512 houses were constructed by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for the economically weaker sections of society on 22 acres at Ejipura, in the southern part of the city. Some of the houses began to crumble due to shoddy construction and ultimately collapsed in 2003. These houses were subsequently demolished by BBMP.

After several years of litigation, the Karnataka High Court (HC) ruled in 2012 that BBMP should provide new homes to the affected families on the same site. The BBMP had issued the reconstruction contract to a developer known as Maverick Holdings, whose managing director Uday B Garudachar is now a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from the Chickpet constituency, Bengaluru. He is the developer of several properties in Bengaluru, including one of the largest malls in the city, Garuda Mall.  

However, the families say that not a single home has been reconstructed in the past 10 years. The Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS), assisted by Bhumi Mattu Vasati Hakku Vanchitara Horata Samiti (Organisation for Land and Housing Rights for the Oppressed), has been representing the affected families in their struggle for permanent housing.

At the time of allotment, the families had even paid some money out of their own pocket. But none of them have homes now,” Alibaba, an activist with the DSS, tells Newsclick. “On May 16, we protested at the site but were detained by the police and warned that we would be arrested if we tried to protest in public spaces again,” he adds.

The families allege that when they approached Garudachar, he either blamed BBMP or the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for the problem and refused to take personal responsibility for the delay in the completion of the project. The families are demanding that the contract with Maverick Holdings be terminated and a fresh tender process initiated. 

Activist Sirimane Nagaraj, a reformed Maoist who had formed the Bhumi Vasati Horata Samiti in 2016, has joined the struggle. The original homeowners, now scattered and living in various parts of the city, have set up a coordination committee to take the issue forward.

An experienced activist named Mariyappa, who has been made president of the committee, says, “In 2012, the HC ordered the BBMP to complete the reconstruction within 18 months. However, not a single house has been built even after 10 years. If the problems of poor people living within 5 km of Vidhana Soudha (State Legislature) are not getting solved, you can imagine the plight of people living in far-flung areas”.

The activists allege that Garudachar is “plotting” to take over the land in “connivance” with BBMP and BDA. One of the original homeowners N Krishna says, “In 1993, there were 42 blocks and 1,512 houses spread over 22 acres. Now, the proposed plan (as per Maverick Holdings) is to build 10-11 floors on three acres and use the rest of the land for commercial purposes. However, even the planned houses have not been constructed. Since 2003, every chief minister, from SM Krishna to BS Yediyurappa, has visited the site and made promises to us.”

Krishna said that “since nobody is interested in providing justice to us, all the 7,000 affected persons have decided to surrender their Voter ID cards to the governor”.

The activists say that nearly all of the affected persons are either dalits or Muslims. The families will protest at Freedom Park on June 20 to demand justice.

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