Left in the lurch, a third time

A housing project on nearly 16 acres of BBMP-owned land for low-income residents in the Rajendranagar area of Ejipura-Koramangala has sparked off tensions amongst residents there, instead of bringing joy.

Maverick Holdings and BBMP signed a concessionaire agreement on 2 January, 2012, clearing the deck for the construction of 1,640 Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quarters at Ejipura. This is coming after a protracted legal battle that lasted nine years. The agreement was signed between Uday Garudachar of Maverick and BBMP Engineer in Chief BT Ramesh.

Pic: Vijayalakshmi P

But the residents still do not know where they will be relocated when the construction starts. Neither the BBMP nor Maverick has informed them about the relocation plans. And on January 14, Shantinagar MLA NA Harris had a shocking request to make of the residents.

"We were all happy that after waiting for so long that we would finally get a house when Harris arrived on the scene. He said that all of us had to vacate our sheds and move out for the construction to start" says Johnson, a resident of Ejipura for the last 9 years . But move where? "That, Harris said was left to us. He said that we could move to the brand new apartments once the construction was over" he says. Elsa who works as a domestic help, says that Harris was heckled at the function and since then has not come back to the slum.

The flats are roughly 312 sq.ft in plinth area. The High Court had in late 2010 ruled in favour of Maverick Holdings, the firm that built Garuda Mall. The 1640 flats are going to go families that lost their homes when the original EWS complex was torn down in late 2003.

Elsa says that most of the residents don’t want to move and she herself is not budging out the place. "Our children go to school in the neighbourhood, we work in houses around Koramangala. At least here we don’t have to pay rent but if we move out where will we find the money for rent and where will work?" Elsa asks.

Even though the concessionnaire agreement (a copy of the final draft is with Citizen Matters) clearly says that Maverick will have to create a relocation package for the legal residents in the tin-sheds, no such plans have unfolded so far. As per the agreement, Maverick is to use 8 acres to build the new EWS quarters and the balance land for a ‘mall’ complex. BBMP is not paying for the project.

Koramangala-resident Venkatraman Iyer who heads the Swabhimaan Public Charitable Trust, which has been working with the communities in the area, says that it would make more sense for the builder to complete the construction of houses before beginning the construction of the Mall. "They can be accommodated in the land on which which the mall is supposed to come up and once they move into their quarters, then the builder can start the construction of the mall" he says.

Harris declined to talk to Citizen Matters despite being reached several times.

An aide to Uday Garudachar, head of Maverick Holdings said the firm would only go on record at a press conference to be held soon. BBMP officials were not available for comment on the status of the project.

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