Demands of the urban poor remain unheard

Bengaluru Karnataka Safety Slums

Ministers visit us only when they need votes

The Karnataka government has promised to provide slum-dwellers basic facilities like housing, electricity and water,  but many of their demands remain unfulfilled. 

The government’s Basic Service to Urban Poor (BSUP) scheme aims at providing seven basic amenities and services to the urban poor, especially slum-dwellers — security of tenure, improved housing, water supply, sanitation, education, health, and social security.

Annapurna Hadapad, a slum-dweller in Vinayaka Layout, Nayandahalli, said she has been living in the slum for 30 years but the government has not provided them permanent housing.

“The High Court has cleared our demand, but the government is not giving us permanent houses. They have made ration available, but our temporary houses get filled with water every time it rains.” They cannot live on rent, which is between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000 a month.

The slums are targets of thieves.

Noora Nisa, who lives in Hombegowda Nagar, near Lalbagh, said slum-dwellers face a lot of problems. There are no water meters in the slum. BWSSB officials say a meter costs Rs 8,000, but “we can only pay Rs 3,000. They will cut our water supply if we do not comply with them.”

She showed The Observer an old common washroom space which has turned into a garbage dump ground over the years. Insects that breed in the garbage bite slum-dwellers, spreading diseases. “It is we who collect money and disinfect the place on a regular basis.”

“We have knocked the doors of the ministers, but they come here only when they need votes,” she added.

Mallikarjun, secretary at Deena Seva Sangha, an NGO, said: “There are 65 children from the underprivileged background in our NGO who require nutritious food. We have to cover their health expenditure. But the government only gives Rs 1,000 for every child which is not enough. We live a very hard life. Only donors help us, but even that is not sufficient.”

Shankar Pujary, assistant director, Karnataka Slum Development Board, said the government and NGOs help slum-dwellers with food supplements during floods.

Meghana B.V., who identifies herself as a social welfare expert at the Karnataka Slum Development Board, said: “We have constructed thousands of buildings. They don’t look like slums. During floods, field engineers facilitate them and attention is given by assistant executive engineers and assistant engineers. We… provide housing to slum-dwellers due to which their lifestyle has been uplifted. The government has also provided free education and anganwadis.”

Yukta Mudgal
Trainee Journalist at IIJNM.

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