Friday, April 29, 2005

Gowda set to bring city to a halt

The Times of India

Suddenly, Daridra Narayanas or slum-dwellers, are the darlings of political parties. JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda is ahead in this love-for-slums race. In focus is his mega rally in the city on Saturday. Not to be outdone, JD(S) coalition partner, Congress, says only it has the right to stake claim for slum improvement.And opposition BJP maintains that it was the NDA government which released Rs 100 crore for slum housing schemes.

We’ll not disturb public: Gowda

Bangalore: JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda on Thursday assured Bangaloreans that no public inconvenience will be caused on Saturday during the rally.

“We will not cancel the rally. We will go ahead with it, but will ensure that it does not cause any public inconvenience,’’ Gowda said at a press meet here which he convened after a high court Bench issued notices to him and others regarding the rally.

The rally, to be held at the Palace Grounds where the Grameeena Janothsava convention of the JD(S) was held on April 13, is likely to witness the participation of nearly 50,000 people. However, Gowda maintained that there will be no traffic jam in and around the venue.

“During the Grameena Janothsava programme, about 35,000 gram panchayat members had come from different parts of the state in thousands of vehicles, yet there were no major traffic jam.

In this rally, only a section of Bangaloreans will participate. As they happen to be the downtrodden the number of vehicles reaching the venue will be less,’’ Gowda justified.

It’s opportunism: BJP

Bangalore: For the BJP, the JD(S) rally is nothing but “sheer opportunism’’.

BJP national slum morcha convener Katta Subramanya Naidu and Uttarahalli MLA R. Ashok said: “The JD(S) people are all Lakshmi Narayanas (wealthy). Why are they talking about Daridra Narayana (the poor)?’’

Contending that Gowda’s “sudden’’ concern for the slum-dwellers was mainly due to the Chamarajpet bypoll expected by June, the duo on Thursday reeled out statistics on how much money was released for slum development during the Janata Dal regime (1994-99).

“For Bangalore’s 473 slums, the JD government released Rs 6 crore over five years. This works out to Rs 1.2 crore a year, Rs 25,000 per slum! This was when Gowda was the CM, followed by his son Revanna as housing minister,’’ they said.

Naidu said Gowda had released hardly Rs 16 crore for slum development as PM, against his claim of having given Rs 500 crore. In contrast, the NDA government had released Rs 100 crore for housing under VAMBAY and Rs 274 crore for Nirmala Jyothi toilets in slums in 2002-03. Besides this, Bangalore South MP Ananth Kumar, in his stint as Union urban development minister, had sanctioned 30,000 houses for urban slums in two years against the 21,000 houses built by the Slum Clearance Board. Ashok said the BJP would take up a counter slum rally on May 25. “We also demand a CBI inquiry or one by a sitting Supreme Court judge, into the land grabbing allegations made by Gowda,’’ he added. Some facts about slums

Bangalore has 473 slums, of which 106 are in seven CMCs, 367 come under BCC and BDA jurisdiction. Of the 367 slums, 219 are ‘declared’ — looked after by the Slum Clearance Board.

Population in slums is 9.91 lakh with 1,98,600 families. There are 44 rehabilitated slums like at Cantonment, Tank Mohalla, M.V. Garden. Laggere slum was recently rehabilitated.

There are several parameters to declare a slum. As per a government order, a slum should existing since 1994 and should have typical characteristics like lack of basic amenities, huts and unhygienic environs. The Slum Clearance Board takes up a survey, lists the number of houses and sends a proposal to the deputy commissioner to declare a slum.
Unauthorised slums keep mushrooming and authorities take up clearance operations. Undeclared slums are those that are mired in litigation. For instance, slums would have sprung up on a private land and the owner would have approached court and sent his objections to the DC.

Oldest and biggest slum is Lakshmanraunagar in Koramangala which has nearly 10,000 households and a lakh population.

Houses are built in declared slums under VAMBAY scheme at Rs 60,000 per unit. Union government gives 50 per cent subsidy and remaining amount is collected from beneficiaries through EMIs.

Projects in the pipeline

Bangalore slums will soon have a Japanese connection, courtesy BWSSB.

The board is set to provide water supply lines to slums with funds from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

Under this, JBIC funds will be used to lay water lines up to the slums. “From the slums to each hutment, the individual applicant will have to pay,’’ sources say.

BWSSB already works with slum dwellers through its Social Development Cell, opened in 2000.The unit began with help from Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) when it came to Bangalore to develop a masterplan for the board.

The cell works with 50-odd slums in the city. As part of the JBIC funding, a baseline survey will be done on the number of slums and number of people living in them.

The BWSSB cell encourages slum dwellers to go in for individual or group water connections. For instance, in March this year, the board revised water tariffs and introduced a new slab directed at slum dwellers.Earlier,under its 0-15,000 litres slab,people paid Rs 115 a month, now the slab is 0-8,000 litres and the tariff is Rs 73. The Slum Clearance Board has two major projects in the pipeline: An integrated slum development project has been drawn up for all 473 slums at a cost of Rs 508.88 crore under which roads, drains, community toilets and bathrooms, UGD, lighting and water supply will be provided. The project has been sent to the Union ministry for approval. The World Bank, ADB, SIDA and governments of Middle East countries have evinced interest in funding several schemes and has asked the board to prepare projects.

HC issues notices to JD(S), police

Bangalore: A division Bench of the high court on Thursday issued notices to the Janata Dal (S), the state home secretary, the commissioner of police and the state employees federation following a writ petition against the legality of the rally to be held by the JD(S) on April 30.

The notices were issued following a petition by social worker B. Krishna Bhat. In his plea, Bhat has contended that the JD(S) has called for the rally of thousands of Daridra Narayanas (the poor).

He said the rally will disrupt the life of ordinary citizens, throw traffic out of gear and cause a possible threat to public peace.

He contended that the Supreme Court had clearly indicated that political parties have no right to hold such rallies and disrupt the life of ordinary, law-abiding citizens. The state machinery had not taken any action to prevent the rally being held by one of the political parties despite the Supreme Court ruling, he claimed.
The HC issued notices but did not impose an interim stay order.


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