The slum dwellers of Mathikere are refusing to move into temporary shelters built for them under the Mathikere flyover by BBMP, saying it is dangerous and unsuitable for living. BBMP is offering the units to 42 families as temporary residences after their houses will be demolished for the widening of M S Ramaiya Road.
The demolishing work began on April 3rd morning. "We will shift 37 families first and rest will be moved as and when housing arrangement are made," said M K Harish, Assistant Engineer with BBMP. The road widening work will begin shortly after moving in the families, he added. Slum dwellers are not ready to shift but we are certain about the project, said Harish.
People are refusing to move in but under the supervision of police the work is forcefully carried out said M Babu, a resident of the slum.
The units are made of sheet rock and brick but have no foundation. The 42 units will share 10 common toilets.
The slum dwellers said they are not going to live under the flyover. "What will happen if a cylinder bursts?" asked Mariamma K whose family of five is slated to move into the units. "And how can we move all our belongings in such a small room?" she added.
The families living in the slum are not ready to move into the units, saying it is unjust and risky to live under a flyover. "Regarding compensation no assurance has been given to us" said Wilson M C, a slum dweller. BBMP is promising us new permanent houses within a year, but we are not sure of anything yet, he added. Other slum dwellers are demanding permanent houses and not temporary settlement under the flyover, which means living with the roar of traffic over their heads day and night.
City engineers said the land being used for the project may be unusual, but it is a workable space and the city will push forward with the project. "Usually houses are not built under a flyover, but in this particular case we are pursuing it since there is an open space and traffic congestion in the roads are low," said Harish who is heading up the project. Space for permanent houses should be determined in the next six months, he said.
The slum dwellers claimed that they are entitled to the ownership of the houses which are slated for demolition. "The Government allotted us this land long back, it is in our name," said Wilson. Whereas Harish said the land belongs to the government, hence new houses will be given to them as compensation.
The road construction will cut into the Mathikere slum and destroy 70 out of 200 homes. The housing project under the flyover has enough room for only 42 units, according to engineers. It is not yet known where the remaining 28 families will move.
Wilson, said he was concerned about what would happen to the housing units during rainy season when water accumulates under the flyover. He said that although BBMP has indicated that the units under the flyover were only temporary, BBMP had not yet explained where the slum dwellers would be permanently resettled.
"We are not going to move there," he said, referring to the temporary units.
The resettlement plan was on hold during the modal code of conduct period, prior to March 28th city elections. Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, MLA of Malleshwaram constituency, declined to comment on the issue. "We will talk about it after the BBMP election," he said.
Velu said the flyover units were unsafe and besides that, there was a bar located next to the units.
Even the shopkeepers near by the road said they opposed the move. They said they feel the presence of slums near their shops will hamper their business.
Earlier, a few temporary units under the flyover were broken down by Congress party workers along with some slum dwellers, a shopkeeper said. Subsequently police were deployed to prevent anyone from obstructing further construction.⊕