Blocks of homes built across congested lanes, dilapidated doors and windows, and filthy surroundings with sewage overflowing on the pathways – this is the grim picture of the housing quarters allotted to slum dwellers at Sadaramangala and Bheemanakuppe in Bengaluru.
These areas are not only cut off from the city, but also do not have basic amenities, and the residents are deprived of job opportunities.
Vasugi Vasu, a residents of Sadaramangala, derided the distance she has to walk to buy groceries. “Even if I have to buy groceries or medicines, I need to walk two kilometres. The bus stop is 1.5 km away, but, buses don’t ply there frequently. It becomes very distressing, especially during medical emergencies. The nearest hospital is at Whitefield, which is five kilometres away,” she said.
It has been seven years since the residents of Bengaluru’s Old Byappanahalli and Veerabhadra Nagar were evicted and relocated to Sadaramangala and Bheemanakuppe. However, hundreds of them are unemployed and struggling to make ends meet.
The Spectre of Unemployment
Clusters of men sitting on rickety benches, children running around narrow passages at noon, and women crouching over fire making curry – this is how many of the slum dwellers at Sadaramangala pass their time.
Murugan Chinnakolandha, 45, has not been able to earn get a job after being evicted. “I have not been able to find a permanent job after moving here. Previously, I used to work as a plumber and earn Rs 6,000 a month. But now, no matter how much I try, I am not able to earn a regular income. I somehow manage to earn Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000 by loading and unloading materials from lorries twice a week. Having three meals a day has in itself become a challenge,” he said, tearing up.
Mutthualazhi Kumar quit her job recently, since she could not travel a long distance.
I continued working as a domestic help even after I got here. I used to spend almost two hours travelling every day. I had to walk four kilometres just to get a bus to Kodegehalli. Since my health was getting worse, I stopped working. The job was paying me Rs 7,000 a month, but I had to let it go.Mutthualazhi Kumar
The residents of Old Byappanahalli were evicted in 2011 for construction of the Metro train. Over 400 families were relocated to the quarters constructed by the Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) at Sadaramangala.
Houses But No Facilities
Residents of more than 10 slums in urban Bengaluru have been evicted from their settlements in the last few years and relocated elsewhere. The slum at Veerabhadra Nagar was one such example where the residents were forced to move to the suburban area of Bheemanakuppe on Mysore Road.
The residents of Bheemanakuppe are grappling with a string of issues like inadequate water supply, absence of electricity, as well as incomplete infrastructure.
Neelamma Prabhu moved out of the house allotted to her, since doors and windows were not installed. “I moved out to another small hamlet since my house did not have doors and windows. What will I do if a thief or rowdy enters? My children’s safety would have been at stake,” she said.
Another resident expressed her despair over lack of water and improper drainage facilities. “I live on the third floor. Every day, I need to fetch water from the borewell on the ground floor. There is no other provision for water. Even the drainage system is pathetic. It gets blocked very often. Many a time, I go to the open field nearby to defecate. We were all happier when we used to stay at Veerabhadra Nagar,” Devamma Sidappa said.
Increasing Number of School Dropouts
Large-scale eviction not only deprive the residents of a regular income, they also cause an interruption in children’s education. “I used to study in the BBMP Boys High School at Ulsoor previously. I discontinued after getting to Bheemanakuppe. It was too much of a hassle to enrol in a new school. I was supposed to continue my academics from class 9, but decided not to do so. There are only two government schools close by and the quality of their syllabus is not good,” said Rajini Raja.
Eviction and Relocation Under the BSUP Scheme
The eviction that took place at Byappanahalli and Veerabhadra Nagar in Bengaluru was part of the Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) scheme sponsored by the Central government. The Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) is a nodal body which is given the responsibility of overseeing all the housing and infrastructural facilities of slum residents.
Despite constructing concrete homes, most of the residents are unable to lead a decent life. When contacted, officials of the KSDB refused to comment on the issue.