Saturday, October 21, 2006

Slum-dwellers lay claim to govt’s hillock

Slum-dwellers lay claim to govt’s hillock
400 Families Raid Land And Build Huts Early Morning
The Times of India

Bangalore: At the crack of Diwali dawn on Friday, it was a scene straight off potboiler. An entire hillock at Hosakerehalli, near Rajarajeshwarinagar, was occupied by 400 slum-dwellers saying, “This is our site.’’ The land in question is prime land off the Rajarajeshwarinagar arch (survey No. 7 and 64) registered in the name of revenue department.
These squatters were galvanised reportedly by Venkatesh, a JD(S) worker who on Thursday night went to the slum groups telling them: “This is government land and it’ll soon be gobbled by land sharks. On Friday, all of you can go and occupy this as free government sites.’’
Accordingly, the 400-odd families started demarcating the land, saying “This is mine, that part is Erappa’s!’’
Bleary-eyed men and women began putting up huts at places they handpicked before Hanumanthappa, a localite, arrived at the place, claiming the land was his. He claimed the squatters had encroached upon his property where he had been growing eucalyptus for 36 years. His supporters helped him pull squatters away from his property.
“I’ve papers to prove it’s my land,’’ said Hanumanthappa, who owns 3 acres of the rocky terrain in survey No. 7 in Hosakerehalli.
But South taluk tahsildar Chikkabettaiah contested the claim. “If we go by records, 100 acres in Survey 7 belong to the government. We’ll verify how he got hold of this property.’’ The tahsildar affirmed nobody can encroach upon government property. “That the encroachment bid was planned on a government holiday exposes the squatters’ intent,’’ Chikkabettaiah said.
Venkatesh, on his part, was determined to help the landless get a 15’x20’ site apiece. “It’s a matter of time before powerful people grab the land. As a preemptive measure, we’ll ensure the deserving among the poor get a site here. We’ll hit the streets with agitation if the government fails to act,’’ said Venkatesh, who blamed minister R Ashok for scuttling the takeover.
District minister R Ashok said, “This is government land. I’ve instructed the DC to disallow encroachment — either from slum dwellers or from private parties. We’ll decide how to develop the land.’’


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