The fate of the long-delayed housing project at Ejipura’s Economically Weaker Section (EWS) colony hangs on an affidavit filed by BBMP Commissioner Shankarlinge Gowda on July 24th. The High Court had instructed BBMP on July 18th to submit the affidavit on its plan of action over the reconstruction of 1512 houses.
The order came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by 12 original allottees of quarters at the EWS colony, who are no longer living there. They were residents of the previous structure, before its collapse in 2004. The allottees went to the HC to stop unauthorised people who have enlisted themselves as beneficiaries of BBMP’s upcoming EWS flats.
On July 24th, Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice Aravind Kumar allotted one week’s time for verification of BBMP’s affidavit. Speaking to Citizen Matters at the court on July 24th, Shankarlinge Gowda said, “We have presented an affidavit based on facts. Now it is up to the court to decide its fate.”
The petitioners’ lawyer, Aniyan Joseph, suspects BBMP’s motives. “Many things mentioned in the affidavit are not true,” he alleges. “BBMP claimed there is no dispute with Maverick and the original allottees. It is absolutely false and we will bring up all false claims of BBMP in the affidavit, on 2nd August (in court),” said Joseph.
Maverick Holdings and BBMP had signed an agreement early this year to build a commercial complex and EWS flat complex on the land.
Unauthorised people may benefit
Rajamani, a homemaker, aged 54, an original allottee who currently lives in AT Halli near Richmond Circle, is worried that she will not get an EWS flat. She approached BBMP several times with the original documents given by the latter, claiming the right to a new flat. But she had to come back frustrated each time. Rajamani and hundreds of others left the wrecked quarters in 2005 after receiving a letter of assurance from BBMP that they will receive newly constructed flats.
When BBMP issued biometric and identity cards, she could not get one. These cards are the basis on which BBMP now says it will hand over the new EWS flats when Maverick finishes construction.
Rajamani’s is not the only case. Around 300 original allottees living in AT Halli complain that they have not received ID cards or biometric cards, but that encroachers living in the slum have received both. In all, more than 1000 original allottees are cursing their predicament for not being able to access their due.
To make matters worse, the original allottees have been treated badly by the encroachers when they attempted to return, claims P S Dass, an allottee.
“The present occupants are dangerous people, so we are scared to go there. It is our land, and those who encroached it need to be punished,” says M S Rajna Xavier, 50, a homemaker and original allottee from AT Halli.“ At present only less than 100 original allottees are living in the slum,” she adds.
All eyes on High Court
The action now moves back to HC on August 2nd, when the court will hear the petitioners’ responses on BBMP’s plan to build and allot flats. Much will depend on the ruling.