Opposition parties said they are planning to regularize the privately owned illegal slums if elected to power.
Opposition parties like AAP and JD(S)’s emphasis will be on providing housing for all, and pucca houses with proper sanitation to slum dwellers.
Ashok Mruthyunjaya, Bangalore vice president, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said that the party has always prioritized the cause of the poor and people below the poverty line. He said the partyis looking forward to provide pucca houses with 200 units of free electricity and water to all the slum dwellers in Karnataka.
He said, “We are planning to regularize all the illegal slums that are privately owned. Providing a house is an easy target to achieve as the government has a lot of land which should be used for the upliftment of the poor and not benefit the rich builders.”
Criticizing the housing policies of the ruling government he added, “When the Centre and the State have allotted so much money to the PM Awas Yojana, where are the pucca houses? The houses were supposed to be built by 2022, why are people still living in slums with poor sanitation? It is all mere publicity and propaganda, just like the Prime Minister went to distribute land to the minority communities in Malkhed just before elections when it is the job of the tehsildar.”
MG Mahesh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson said that the opposition has no moral right to question their achievements when they have failed to deliver their promises. It was Congress who kept the slums in pathetic condition and that BJP has provided all the facilities and amenities.
“We have given an adequate budget for the building of the slums to the concerned bodies and we are estimating seven lakh houses with basic amenities all across Karnataka within 2024,” he added
The Janata Dal (JDS) spokesperson, Prathap Kanagal said that under the PM Awas Yojana, the government provides only Rs. one to two lakhs to economically weaker sections and the SC/ST. This is not enough for people to buy houses in a village and no one can get houses with the amount allotted in Tier one cities like Bengaluru.
He added, “Under our Pancharathna Yojana, one of the things we are prioritising is ‘free houses for all’ apart from free education, free healthcare, woman and youth empowerment and farming sector reforms.”
“We want to provide houses for all, which are suitable to live in. We are looking at the 469 houses built during floods in Kodagu, Coorg when H. D Kumaraswammy was in power as a model to build the houses. We will keep a target of five years to build a certain number of houses,” he said.
The Congress spokesperson, Anil Taikai said that they are yet to release their manifesto with their plans for slum development. He said that most of the houses and slums that have been developed were done when Congress was in power.
I.S Patil the outreach program coordinator for Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA) Non-governmental organization (NGO) has been working for the upliftment of the slum dwellers for 28 years. He said that the political parties come up with promises of uplifting the urban poor and the slum dwellers before the elections just for votes.
He said that housing schemes for slum dwellers have been launched by all the governments that have been in power, be it the UPA government or the NDA government. However, there have always been problems with implementation. The houses that have been built were just for namesake and are not fit for living. The quality of material used for building them was poor and there is no electricity or underground drainage facilities.
Patil added that if the slum dwellers have been living there for the last 20 to 30 years, the land should be declared as theirs. He said that it should be up to them to decide if they want the government to build their house or if they want to build it themselves.
Dr. S. Y. Surendra Kumar, a political science professor said that during elections, political parties mainly focus on the urban area. The slums constitute majority of the urban poor, they are the ones who vote on a large scale as compared to the rich urban or middle class. This is the case everywhere, be it Chennai, Mumbai or Bangalore. The voting percentage is not more than 50 percent and majority of that 50 percent is coming from the slum areas.
. There are many places in Bengaluru where such houses are built. However, one can question the quality of the material used to build the houses due to the poor condition.
He said, “The opposition has pointed out that the Centre has not done enough to develop the slums. They are promising to do a better job if voted to power. But it is not something new. Every year before the elections the parties make such statements and promises.”
Professor Kumar added that most policies by the central government lack implementation. It is either because of the funds or post-election their priorities change that they do not implement what they promise. It is a loophole and provides an opportunity for the opposition to blame the government.