A demolition drive in Bhubaneswar ended in a first Monday. Dwellers of the slums who lost their homes were paid six months’ rent for new accommodation.
“We paid Rs 25,000 to each family, which includes Rs 10,000 for buying utensils and blankets and Rs 15,000 house rent for the next six months,” Sumant Mishra, deputy commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, said at the end of the two-day demolition at Nilamadhav basti in Bhubaneswar’s Chandrasekharpur.
Over 100 of the 840 families living there were given the money Monday after their homes were demolished to make way for a 100 ft road. The demolition comes a month after the drive at Delhi’s Shakurbasti, which had made news following the death of a child and had left over 1.000 families without an alternative roof over their heads.
The families in the Bhubaneswar slum had been living there for the last 15 years and been served notices several times. “Though we were earlier providing transit homes or open fields where they could stay until accommodation was arranged, we thought the rental scheme was better,” said DC Mishra.
Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation’s 135 sq km includes 436 slums with more than 3 lakh people living, as per the 2011 census. The ruling BJD has not been able to demolish them as slum dwellers are a large vote-bank in an urban election.
“We did not want to leave our homes. But we have little choice,” said Rabin Kumar Sahu, a leader of the dwellers of Nilamadhav Basti. “We are more or less satisfied that we are being given Rs 2,500 a month for getting a house on rent. We have been assured rent for for another six months if the corporation is not able to provide alternative accommodation after six months.”
BMC officials said most slumdwellers whose homes were demolished will get a house under the Rajiv Awas Yojana; they have to contribute 20 per cent of the building cost.