Submitted by ammembala on Sat, 2016-02-27 10:36 Bengaluru: Challenges for the success of Prime Minister’s Modi’s ambitious Swacch Bharat programme are aplenty in the city, and one such challenge lies in the long stretch of shanty-like houses in MRS Palya Ward 62. “I take my husband out every night when I have to attend to the call of nature as people living in this stretch have no toilets. We usually feel scared to go out alone as it is quite risky. We have been living in this area for the past several years. But we still do not have toilets,” said Kavitha. A resident of MRS Palya Ward 62 for the past 12 years, Kavitha’s house is among the 500 houses which do not have toilets. “The BBMP constructed a public toilet a few years ago. But that toilet was not maintained and it became filthy. Now, they have constructed another public toilet in the next road, but people supervising it demand Rs5 for using it. How can all the people in the area go to only one public toilet?” asked Kavitha. With no access to toilets, people have been using vacant slots in the surrounding areas to attend to the call of nature, turning the whole area into a giant stinking mess. When Bfirst visited the ward, the foul smell was so revolting that it impossible to walk without closing one’s nose. “There is no toilet in our house. The BBMP constructed a public toilet near here, but it makes no sense to use it. Now they have constructed a new public toilet, but we cannot use it as we have to pay Rs5 for each entry,” said Karthik Raj, another resident. But when Bfirst probed further, a simple query about lack of toilets turned into a head-scratching exercise that revealed a glimpse of the chaos prevalent in our civic bodies. When this reporter contacted Corporator Nethravathi Krishne Gowda, Nethravathi’s husband Krishne Gowda took the call and spoke on her behalf. “Yes there are no toilets in these homes,” said Krishne Gowda. “But the charge for using the new public toilet is not Rs5. It might be only about Re1.” Then came the surprise revelation. “These people came here 12 years ago. The houses they are residing in are unauthorised and the land belongs to the Forest Department. Anyway, I am constructing at least 10 toilets for them,” said Krishne Gowda. The corporator’s husband also denied garbage was being burnt in the area, when there was clear evidence of garbage burning. “I have never come across that kind of activity till now,” said Krishne Gowda. Following the corporator’s (husband’s) claim, Bfirst contacted both the BBMP forest cell as well as the Karnataka Forest Department and both of them denied having anything to do with the area or the problem. BBMP’s Assistant Conservator of Forest Sathyanarayana said, BBMP only “looked after trees but not the ownership of any forest land” while Deputy Conservator of Forest of Bengaluru Urban Division, Sadanandappa said the department “did not have any forest land in that locality”. When confronted with the new evidence, Krishne Gowda said, “Karnataka Slum Development Board might have a clear idea. They had issued notices to them to vacate the land by offering them residences in the other parts of the city.” Following this new revelation, Bfirst spoke to Ravikumar, Engineer, Karnataka Slum Development Board, who said, “Yes, that is true. The houses are unauthorised. It belongs to Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). We had given them notice to clear the land. Our Assistant Executive Engineer, Shashidhar has clear idea on it.” Bfirst then contacted Assistant Executive Engineer, Shashidhar, who said, “I have no idea. I need to check it. I will look into the documents.” The chase to figure out whether the land was authorised or unauthorised ended with the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). One BDA official came up with this startling revelation. “BDA had handed over the land to BBMP 10 years ago. BDA has no business with any land in Benson Town. BBMP people are misquoting facts to save themselves”, he said. With BBMP Mayor BN Manjunath Reddy unavailable for comment, the last word on this strange saga of 500 houses without toilets in MSR Palya Ward 62 has not been said.