The demolition drive which rendered many families living in makeshift homes in Kariyammana Agrahara in Bengaluru homeless was unauthorised, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has confirmed.
Narayan Swamy, Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE), Mahadevapura Zone, had given the order for carrying out the demolitions despite not having the authority to do it on private land. He gave the order based on complaints by apartment residents in the area.
"We have relieved him (AEE) and sent him to his parent department - Public Works Department (PWD). We will also be writing to the secretary of PWD department to take action against him including that of suspension. The demolitions were unauthorised," BBMP Commissioner Anil Kumar told TNM.
The Commissioner confirmed that the AEE did not have authorisation to force evictions and carry out demolitions on private land.
On Saturday and Sunday, the civic body engineer ordered the demolition of a cluster of sheds of mostly daily wage earners. A week ago, a video shared widely on social media, had claimed that illegal Bangladeshi immigrants were sheltered in the settlement. This despite the fact that most residents of the settlement were from different parts of India including Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and even north Karnataka.
The video, reportedly taken in Bellandur, was also shared on Twitter by Mahadevapura's BJP MLA Arvind Limbavali, and it claimed Bangladeshi immigrants were illegally staying in the area. A news report by Suvarna News in the previous week had also claimed the presence of Bangladeshi immigrants staying in Bellandur.
However, the engineer does not have the authority to undertake a demolition drive, which he did with the help of the police on a piece of land not belonging to the civic body.
BBMP commissioner BH Anil Kumar was not apprised of the demolition drive. Nearly 200 tin and tarpaulin sheds were destroyed in Kariyammana Agrahara and 500 such makeshift structures were razed to the ground at Deverabeesanahalli. "Since it is a private property, BBMP has no direct authority for eviction. I have asked for the suspension and repatriation of the assistant executive engineer to the parent department," the civic body's special commissioner D. Randeep told IANS.
The occupants of the settlement were already living in fear of demolition when plainclothes policemen from Marathahalli appeared on Sunday accompanying the civic body officials to destroy their sheds.
However, it is not known if any relief was provided to the evacuees. The residents in the settlement work as housekeepers, cleaners, and construction workers on daily wages.
The demolition drive over the weekend was reminiscent of an instance in August 2018 when the BBMP demolished 400 huts occupied by low-income group families in Kariyammana Agrahara. At the time, authorities said the huts had to be demolished as they apparently violated the buffer zone of the Bellandur lake, which is more than a kilometre away. Soon after, the Karnataka High Court had stayed evictions in the area after activists approached the court for relief.
With IANS inputs