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Puttenahalli slum dwellers refuse to move

Puttenahalli  slum rehabilitation- dwellers refuse to move out.

Image Source: PNLIT

By Anjala Farahath

Bangalore, Sept 20: Slum dwellers of Puttenahalli lake refuse to move to sheds allotted to them in Bettadasapura, 20kms away because they say the houses are too small, and too far away.

The Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) had allotted these houses three months ago. About 1.17 acres of Puttenahalli Lake has been encroached by slum occupants for over 30 years.


Though the BBMP and KSDB have arranged for alternate rehabilitation for the slum occupants, they say the houses are 10 to 15 sq. ft. in size, which is insufficient for a family to stay. There are just 20 toilets for 68 houses. Although multiple attempts were made to relocate them, the people say that the small space given is inadequate for their families of 5-10 people. “We have large families. We have asked for sites to build our own houses,” said Dhanalakshmi, an older resident, who had visited the Bettadaspura site.

Most of them are daily wage workers and relocation to Bettadaspura would also require them to look for new jobs.


The authorities believe the encroachment is a hindrance to the lake development project. “The office of Deputy Commissioner and the Tehsildar have agreed to provide them with housing, water and electricity at Bettadaspura. But these people wish to stay here. The families and houses are increasing with each day.
Initially, we had made arrangements for 68 houses as rehabilitation. Now these people have formed an association and occupied the land with more houses in Puttenahalli. If they don't vacate, we’ll decide and take action,” said Satish Reddy, the MLA from JP Nagar.

The BBMP and Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) work together to rejuvenate and revive the lake. Of the 13.25 acres of lake, this particular encroachment is the only part that is to be developed. “The trust has worked hard to develop the rest of the lake, and with the encroachers here, the lake will not stay clean for long”, complained Sushila, the manager of PNLIT.


The BBMP filed an objection statement against the occupants of the huts in Puttenahalli. “The residents of the slum create nuisance and obstruction in and around the lake. They do it deliberately and do not want the lake to be developed. Although they have been given a place in Electronic City, they don't want to relocate due to several reasons,” said Prashanth Chandra, the lawyer fighting this case on behalf of the BBMP. 

Usha Rajgopal, Chairperson of PNLIT, whose role was pivotal in the rejuvenation of the Puttenahalli Lake said, “The lake property is open all through the day and night because of these encroachers. This has invited miscreants to damage the lake property, like pipes and concrete slabs. Because of the encroachers we are not able to keep the lake secure. I feel man and nature are two elements that cannot live together.”


Vidya Sagar, CEO of the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) said, "It is one of the best lakes developed by the resident welfare association. Unfortunately, we Indians feel that slum dwellers are not our brothers. Of course the encroachment looks like an eyesore, but the encroachment is negligible.”


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