Hope Remains For The Homeless Yet In Bengaluru Lakebed Evictions
Though it sounds like the stuff of fiction, every word is true. The long overdue lake rejuvenation project in Bengaluru is resulting in demolitions of houses built on illegally acquired lakebed plots. Now Minister Ramalinga Reddy is proposing some sort of justice by allotting BDA flats for the innocent sufferers who are suddenly rendered homeless.
What exactly does ‘illegal’ and ‘innocents’ mean in this strange context? People who bought plots from BDA twenty years ago to construct houses based on lifetime savings did not have any inkling of the truth. The truth was that the lakebed plots were illegal and the work of corrupt officials. Now the quandary is that the corrupt officials should be punished. The residents got the shock of their lives to be told the truth after two long decades and issued eviction notices. Besides the housing plots, apartment complexes and even commercial establishments have been quietly encroaching and we know how.
This strange episode is not the happening at a single location either. During the last two months the demolition has been going on first at Sarakki and now at Banaswadi.
Whether the displaced would be getting one or two bedroom apartments is a question yet to be answered. Yet it is ethical that the state government take stringent action against the corrupt officials. How and why was no survey work done on the lakebeds for two decades and more? Who were the land grabbers and which officials allowed them to get the necessary sanctions and licenses? Besides BDA plots, other private plots, commercial establishments, apartment complexes, temples and roads have all quietly sprung up over the years.
The figures would speak better than arguments and emotions! Even after Sarakki and Banaswadi demolitions, more than 3500 BDA plots would be getting the axe in the close future. The plots belong to 14 layouts that are at varying stages of construction and development. The BDA development work at these sites would amount to Rs. 10,000 crore. Banshankari, RMV, HAL, HSR Layout, Nagarbhavi, Dollars Colony in JP Nagar, Koramangala and BTM layout are some of the areas affected.
At Sarakki Lake, land worth Rs. 2000 crore would be recovered. The recovery at four lakebeds would yield 80 acres of encroached land (Bilekahalli, Kadirenahalli, Ittamadu and Chikkallasandra lakes).
While the pretty face and health of garden city Bengaluru and Bengalurians would improve over the coming months and years, the fate of the large number of affected innocents still remain a mystery. The law is strange and unpredictable but all are agreed that it is the responsibility of the state government to restore normalcy by punishing the guilty and allotting replacement housing.