Harshini Brahmavar / Akshata Shetty
Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (SP)
Udupi, Nov 4: They take pains to execute development works which benefit the city, but continue to be poor, as they have failed to get fair share in the fruits of development achieved by the city out of their hard work. Although governments have been undertaking social development initiatives to ensure that basic facilities reach even the last person in the society, migrant labourers who come to the city seeking work continue to struggle for survival.
Udupi has been famously known as the district of the intelligent people, besides boasting of several tourist spots. Thousands of people from country and abroad flock to this district every day. For the district to achieve progress further, it requires labourers besides money. Because of employment potential here, people from drought-hit or agriculture-dependent districts like Vijayapura, Bagalkot, Raichur etc migrate to this district and settle down here for earning livelihood. One cannot deny the fact that these labourers have contributed immensely for making this district beautiful and development-oriented.
There are thousands of labourers in the city, but few care to know whether they get basic facilities, whether their children are studying or not, where do they live, etc. These migrant labourers in fact face a lot of hardship.
Over 100 houses in a private land at Beedinagudde, which is located about two to three km away from the heart of the city, have been accommodating over a thousand people for the last 20 years. This area, which looks like a slum, does not have any facility other than thatched mini-huts which function as roofs over the heads of these labourers. They have to walk two kilometer to get drinking water, and they do not have toilets. Grown up girls find it hard to relieve themselves even at night.
These people have explained about their problems to leaders during elections, but they happen to see faces of these leaders only during the election. A private person collects monthly rent from these people. None of these residents have ration cards, voter cards, Aadhar cards etc, and not even a fraction of facilities needed to be called a rented home are being extended to them.
Locals passing through this area are forced to pinch their noses tight. These people, who have been frustrated at repeatedly requesting the concerned to attend to their problems, have got themselves accustomed to the pathetic living conditions. They cannot be called destitute, because their children study in nearby Chitpady School and five among the residents of these huts have secured degrees.
Although discussions about their plight were earlier held in the municipal sessions, and notices were served several times to the concerned to initiate corrective steps, the concerned have not taken cognizance of these notices. The problems therefore are getting more and more confounded.
Open defecation by the residents here also creates problem for the people in general. Foul odour encompassing the area has been bothering the people. There are reports of some of these slum residents suffering from malaria. Many fear outburst of epidemics including dengue emanating from this locality.
These labourers, in order to see that their children do not suffer like them, have been sending them to school. But these children find it hard to move about after coming back from school. They have been spending nights under the street lamps. Although they have interest, because of lack of enough light, they are lagging in studies. Because of lack of basic facilities, they have been suffering, although Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been implemented all over the country.
If left unattended, these problems will begin to affect the city and hamper further development in course of time. People's representatives need to keep politics aside, understand the ground reality, and work sincerely to solve these problems. If they take interest, these problems can be addressed at least to some extent. It has to be seen whether the officials and people’s representatives will shed lethargy and work towards this end. People expect them to break their silence and tell people what plans they have in store for the welfare of the sufferings of these people.
Municipal councillor, Geetha Shet, says that Beedinagudde has turned into a slum because of migrant labourers. "In the recent past, the state government had passed orders to make our district free of open defecation. As per the recent survey, 132 houses in the region have door numbers, but the thatched huts here do not have any door numbers. The number of such huts has doubled during the last three years. The people here have been making use of government land as toilets. It would be wrong to say that payment of rent for the spaces occupied by these people is wrong. But providing basic amenities is also very important. Although public toilet has been built, these labourers do not care to even basically maintain it. Although the city municipal council has served notices on the concerned thrice, there is no improvement in the situation. This issue will be debated in the city municipal council soon, and the attention of the district deputy commissioner will be drawn towards this crisis," she said.
Nithyananada Olakadu of Nagarika Samiti said, "Coolie workers are also part of our state, and wherever they go, they should get basic facilities and also ration cards and ID cards. When Ponnuraj was the DC, he spoke of providing an alternative solution for them, but since then no one has given any attention to their plight. Labourers who are living in a private person's land, have their own rights, so they should get the required basic facilities."
A city dweller named Nagaraj, speaking to Daijiworld, revealed that he has been passing through this area since the last 15 years. "It is becoming more and more difficult to move through this area. The people who are living in these huts are polluting this area more and more. This is sure to have adverse affect on our health," he lamented.
Such huts built for themselves by labourers can be seen also in places like Nittoor, Malpe, Manchi, Brahmavar and such other places of the district. There is no doubt that they harm the development of the city and the district. Therefore, this issue should be handled in tune with the existing legal provisions and the officials concerned should take up this task immediately before more harm is inflicted on environment and health condition of people.