While most of India talks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Housing for All’ vision, the slum dwellers of Ejipura in Bengaluru are a resigned lot. Back in 2013, they moved out of their homes after being promised 1,512 ‘pucca’ homes and a commercial complex within a 16-acre plot in the heart of the city. But 3 years later, that promise remains unfulfilled.
What went wrong?
· The project was a Public- Private Partnership between the city corporation (BBMP) and Maverick Holdings Ltd, but the partnership has soured.
· Maverick needs to raise a loan for the project and needs a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the BBMP since the corporation owns the land.
· The BBMP however hasn’t issued a NOC as yet. It claims that Maverick holdings have to still pay the BBMP dues from another PPP project.
· The ‘pending dues’ that BBMP seeks is a fine of Rs 6.69 crores for converting a parking lot at Garuda Mall into a food court.
Who is to blame?
No one really knows. When contacted by NDTV, the builder dismissed all charges of having any pending dues. “This is an alleged, fictitious due. I can say the corporation owes me too. I have no single rupee due to any city corporation” claims Uday Garudachar, MD of Maverick holdings.
Making matters worse, the authorities say it is the builder who it at fault. “We have already signed the MoU; there is no need for a NOC. A MoU means the project is cleared, it is the builder who needs to commence the work now” says Manjunath Reddy, Mayor of Bengaluru City.
How are the slum-dwellers faring?
They are definitely suffering. Of the 3000-odd families that were evicted, some were given transit homes on Hosur Road while others were given a one-time payment of Rs 30,000. But this was made available to only the original inhabitants of the land, who made up about 15% to 20% of the population living here. The rest have no option but to live in shanties and make-shift structures on the periphery of the barricaded plot that they once called home.
“We are being fooled by the BBMP. The original allotees have paid Rs 10,000 each for our houses. We request the BBMP commissioner to please clear the NOC at the earliest” pleaded PS Das – the general secretary for the Economically Weaker Sections Welfare Association – who was also evicted from the area.
Nobody knows how long the blame-game will continue. Meanwhile, the Ejipura redevelopment project continues to hang in the balance. The government and the developer must work things out quickly, otherwise instead of a sprawling township; all these residents will have is a barren stretch of land.
Stacy Pereira, Reporter, NDTV