Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Slum Residents in Bengaluru Stare at Eviction, Demand Appropriate Resettlement

Residents of two slums received notices for eviction earlier this year.
The railway tracks at Pulakeshinagar (pictured behind the slum)

The railway tracks at Pulakeshinagar (pictured behind the slum)

Residents of two slums in Bengaluru are on the brink of eviction. One of the slums is located at Lingarajapuram, while the other one is in Pulakeshinagar. Residents of both slums received notices for eviction earlier this year. The residents of both slums are Dalits from Ballari, Kalaburgi, Kolar and Bengaluru.

The Pulakeshinagar slum allegedly sits on a plot of railway land. The residents were told that the slum would have to be cleared for the construction of a compound wall. They were called for a meeting on November 16 with Lakshman Singh, Additional Divisional Railway Manager, South Western Railway. The slum residents appealed to the local MLA, Akhanda Srinivas Murthy of the Indian National Congress (INC). The MLA attended the meeting on behalf of the residents. However, he was not successful in convincing railway authorities to withdraw the notices.

A copy of the notice sent to one resident – seen by NewsClick – states that 64 sq. ft. of railway land has been encroached upon by him. It further states that a temple and church present next to the slum are also part of the unauthorised constructions. The locals say that the religious structures were constructed more than 50 years ago. Both structures are located next to each other, adjacent to the slum.

The nearly dry Kacharakanahalli lake and the slum located within its buffer zone

The nearly dry Kacharakanahalli lake and the slum located within its buffer zone

The temple next to the slum is of the Karumariamman deity, who is largely worshipped in Tamil Nadu. Most of the residents in the slum are also Tamil speakers. The temple does not have a priest. After the temple priest passed away a few years ago, the locals maintained it by spending money from their own pockets. If any rituals were to be done, they reportedly did it themselves by playing mantras on YouTube. The residents are part of the Adi Dravida Dalit community.

The slum does not receive piped water. The residents rely on water from a borewell nearby.

NewsClick visited the office of ADRM Lakshman Singh in Bengaluru to ascertain if the railways have any plans to resettle the slum dwellers. He said he had no knowledge of the eviction and suggested that any questions from the media be directed to the public relations officer (PRO). The railways have not replied to the questionnaire sent
by NewsClick.

MLA Srinivas Murthy has allegedly offered temporary sheds for the slum dwellers. However, they have refused the offer and have demanded permanent housing. There may be around 150 families residing here, but 45 have received eviction notices from the railways.

Lingarajapuram Slum

The other slum facing eviction is in Lingarajapuram and is located right next to the Kacharakanahalli lake. The residents here have made their way to Bengaluru from places like Kalburgi and Ballari. They have been receiving notices from the BBMP. The residents were told that the authorities were planning to redevelop the lake and that they would have to vacate the slum by December. Five hundred and ninety families are residing in the slum.

The residents are being assisted by a local activist, V Murthy from the Tamil Nadu-based Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK).

The slum residents have been urged to vacate the land in the past as well. Residents here said that when they returned to Bengaluru after the first COVID-19 lockdown, they found that their makeshift houses were completely smashed. They rebuilt the sheds and continued to live on another side of the lake. The residents mainly are daily wage labourers.

On October 31, the residents of the slum came to Freedom Park to protest and raise awareness about their issues. They were led by V Murthy. Speaking to NewsClick, he said, “We spoke to the Housing Minister, V Sommanna for alternate housing. He wrote to the commissioner of the Karnataka slum development board. However, the slum board has told us that there are no lands available in the city. I had identified some land in KR Puram, but I could not proceed with the legal formalities as the Deputy Commissioner (DC) and the Tahsildar (Bengaluru East) have been suspended.”

When asked about the vandalism of the slum during the lockdown, Murthy claimed that the slum was destroyed to make way for a temple. Residents of both slums are willing to relocate if they are provided with alternate housing. However, no arrangements have been made so far. They fear that they will be allotted temporary sheds in a remote part of the city like Yelahanka or Baglur. This would be disastrous as their workplaces and children’s schools are all located close to the slum.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram