Bengaluru: Over 1000 People Rendered Homeless After BBMP Demolishes Settlement
Over a thousand people who had been living in a settlement beside Sakara Hospital located at Devarabeesanahalli in Bengaluru were rendered homeless on August 18. The local civic body, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has raized over 400 tin-shed houses to the ground without any prior notice to the dwellers of the settlement. Reportedly, the slum-dwellers were given half an hour to pack their belongings before earth movers reduced their houses to nothing but debris.
Why did the BBMP demolish the settlement?
Moreover, the settlement at Kariyammana Agrahara near Bellandur lake was mostly inhabited by labour workers who are migrants from other states. Some of the inhabitants had been living in the area for eight years as well. The BBMP officers termed the settlement as ‘encroachment’ and conducted the demolition drive.
However, the BBMP officials have given an explanation for their move and according to Deccan Herald, the demolition was carried out due to lake buffer zone violations. They also said that the evictions were carried out to clear encroachments. Reportedly, repeated announcements were made asking the slum-dwellers to vacate the spot before the BBMP officials finally decided to vacate the spot.
Mayor Sampath Raj also told the daily, “I have spoken to the officials and requested for a report on the incident. The land is on the lake buffer zone and belongs to the government.” He too reiterated the fact that the BBMP had given a number of warnings before the demolition drive. However, the residents of the area did not know that such a drive was in the works. While men spent the night under trees, women and children had to spend their nights in makeshift tents, which they constructed on the private land where once their houses stood.
Not violating the buffer zone rules
However, contesting the BBMP’s claim of buffer zone rules violation, Vinay Srinivas, advocate and activist told The Logical Indian that before demolishing hutments on private property, the BBMP has to conduct a proper survey and serve a legal notice, which was not done.
He also said, “BBMP yesterday demolished 400 houses saying its occupying buffer zone. A simple measurement using google maps shows they are wrong. The spot is at least 103 metres away from ‘rajakaluve’ (storm water drains) and 1.3 km from the Bellandur lake.” He had conducted a survey on his own using google maps to determine the distance
“In the lake privatisation case filed by ESG, (WP 817/2008) Karnataka HC said buffer zone is 30m from the lake. In the Forward Foundation case, NGT had said that 75m is the buffer zone for the lake. Here the lake is 1,300m away from the houses, so no way it’s in a buffer zone,” he added.
However, this was not the first time the BBMP had taken an action against settlements like these. In 2016 as well, BBMP had identified close to 2000 encroachments in the city and had razed down a number of hutments which were reportedly built over stormwater drains or rajakaluve.
Moreover, several reports suggest that BBMP itself has been guilty of encroachment.