Chitra V. Ramani
The earthmovers are busy levelling the land at the Ejipura shantytown, which was home to thousands until recently. Over the past week, they have been systematically evicted from their sheds here by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
While most families have moved out, there still the desperate ones who continue to live in the huge concrete drainage pipes. The police personnel at the spot periodically warn them to leave soon. The land where the tin sheds stood has now been levelled; huge mounds of debris pushed to the periphery, more or less ringing the 15 acre 22 gunta prime land.
There is, of course, a price to be paid for clinging to hopeless hope. The stragglers, exposed to the dust, cold, hunger and dejection, are falling ill. Lack of toilets and clean drinking water — and even one square meal a day — is taking its toll. Rights activists have been trying to make their lives a little easier by collecting funds and distributing food, blankets and water.
‘Women not eating’
Slyvia Karpagam, a medical practitioner, has been visiting the area for the past four or five days and treating people there. She said that most children have diarrhoea and respiratory infections, while stress-related ailments such as high blood pressure were detected in a few women. “This is due to lack of nutritious food and clean drinking water. Instead of proper meals, the children are eating biscuits. The women have not been eating as they don’t want to leave their belongings to relieve themselves in public toilets that are at least 10 minutes away,” she said.
Dr. Karpagam had treated around 100 residents on Wednesday and Thursday. “Some are not taking their regular medicines. When they were forcibly evicted, they lost the medicines and prescriptions. At a time [of crisis] like this, looking after one’s health becomes secondary.”
Outside, private security guards, gripping their lathis, keep an eye on those entering the property, stopping vehicles.
The BBMP has entered into an agreement with Maverick Holdings Pvt. Ltd. for the joint development of the land. While half of the land will house a residential complex for the 1,512 original allottees of the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) Quarters, a mall will come on the other half.