Seven Propositions and One Challenge from Ejipura

By Gautam Bhan, published in Kafila

The recent eviction of over 1500 Economically Weaker Section (EWS) households from Ejipura in Bangalore to make way for a high-end mixed-use development has made Gautam question this eviction and raise seven quick propositions on how to understand these evictions, how to respond in the immediate and near-term.

The propositions he highlights are:

1. The “illegality” of the Ejipura settlement has to be seen in the context of a larger failure of the state to build adequate and legal EWS housing. If there is, a systematic failure to build enough housing the poor can legally own or rent – is their occupation of vacant public land then “illegality” or the “impossibility of legality”?

2. The move to label current Ejipura residents as “unauthorized occupants” and pit them against “original residents” is a strategic move to pit the poor against each other while distracting from the real question of the inadequacy of affordable, accessible and safe shelter that they can afford: this move may well be motivated only to reduce significantly the number of households to be resettled — the number of “original allottees” will be significantly less than the number of current residents.

3. The eviction and the exclusion of long-term current residents goes against the policy trends across the city, state and the centre to refuse forced evicitions to move towards in-situ upgrading. The Rajiv Awaas Yojana directly recognizes the right of all current residents (regardless of whether they are “original allottees” of any kind) to shelter in the city and upgradation.

4. The lack of access to enough legal housing does not impact the poor alone. The rich also build illegal housing in a differeny way: the Unauthorised Colony.

5. When the local MLA says that there “is nothing he can do” against the order of the High Court, we must both contextualize and challenge this statement.

6. Contravening current judicial precedence, international human rights obligations, and adherence to emerging local policy regimes, the eviction in Ejipura occurred before adequate alternative resettlement was in place.

7. The decision to use land that housed the poor – let us set aside for a moment whether they were or were not authorized – for a redevelopment towards higher-end residential and commercial use itself cannot escape scrutiny.



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