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Jeanne’s house

Jeanne is a 50-something member of a citizen’s group in Mangalore. As she shows me her street, DSouza Lane, she draws me a picture of how her city has changed and she has got involved in the Citizen’s Forum group.

A series of incidents got me involved in this. A few years ago, I started getting concerned over garbage collection in Mangalore. A few of us started talking about the issue and informally got together to think about how we could do something to improve garbage collection and disposal in the city. Then the first house on my road was sold for development and this large multi-storeyed building of apartments came up. You’ve seen how narrow our road is. DSouza lane is a winding, narrow road with a ditch at either end to allow the heavy monsoon rains to drain away. 2 Maruti cars find it difficult to pass each other; in fact one has to pull over at a broader portion of the road for the other to overtake. Such a narrow road and so many cars from the apartment building clogging the entrance to the main road. What makes it worse is that at the junction of DSouza lane and the main road theres an auto stand on the right and a school on the left hand side. So you can imagine our situation.

Then one of my neighbors down the road rebuilt his house. For this, he broke down and reconstructed his boundary wall. At that time I went to him and asked him to construct his wall 2 feet back so that the road would be wider at that point. Why should I do it and lose my land, he asked. Do it for all of us on the road I said. It would really help. And he did. You can see that the road is wider at this part- 2 cars can easily pass each other. DSouza lane curves to the left and we continue past sprawling bungalows set in gardens overflowing with trees and plants. Our house is just round the corner.

The road curves to the right and theres their house on the left- a large white low-slung building in good condition. We just did it up, she said. You can see the building materials piled up in the corner, we still have some work to finish up. But now look on the right at this monstrosity. This is what makes me really angry. It’s a 15 story building coming up on our road. It looks like theres no work going on, I observed. Yes, she said. That’s because we stopped it. We got a stay order placed on it last Dec and the builder cannot do anything about it. And if you look you’ll see that the boundary wall has been set back. Do you know why the builder did that? That’s because Karnataka has a strange provision in their building bye-laws. It says that the vertical height of a building depends on the width of the road as measured from the centre of the plot. This means that they don’t take the width of the entire stretch of road into account but just the width of the portion of road measured in front of the building gate. This loophole doesn’t exist in other states- We’ll go inside and I’ll show you Goa’s and Maharashtra’s bye-laws. So the builder here is clever. He has taken advantage of this loophole by setting his gate further back from the road so that he can increase the height of the building. 15 floors, on a road this narrow, can you imagine?

We enter their house and its cool and quiet inside. A respite from the blazing hot sun. the building bye-laws are brought and pored over. The provision in question is highlighted in yellow and falls open readily, perhaps indicating that this page is frequently referred to.

I was so angry at the builder. I went and spoke to him. Then I visited govt offices here but nothing came out of that. I have made about 5 trips to Bangalore so far and my husband has made 3. I’ve learnt all sorts of things. She laughs. I visited Vidhana Souda. And the Fire Dept. The Fire Dept was on our side. They have been complaining for years that if theres a fire they wouldn’t be able to enter and reach such big buildings with such a narrow approach road but who listens to them. They were really happy to hear us say the same thing. We’ll support you, they said.

And did you notice the scorched building behind the 15-storey building that’s being developed? There are actually 2 buildings behind this building and DSouza lane is the only approach road for both these as well. The second building actually caught fire last year. It was at night and because the road is so narrow it took the fire engine a long time to put the fire out. The building was semi destroyed and noone lives in it now.

Some of my Bangalore visits were to discuss things with our lawyer. Shes based in Bangalore. And she says we have a strong case. Anyone looking at our road can sympathize with us. But for a PIL you have to do a lot of home work. It doesn’t cost much money but it takes a lot of time and work. We have jointly filed it in the name of the group we formed about 1.5 years ago. Our case is due to come up any day now and we’re waiting.

Its not as if we’re against all builders. In fact I’m related to quite a few of them. But I’m certainly not going to sit quiet when they go against the law. Its nothing for them after all as they’re not going to live in these places. Its us that will suffer, we’re going to be the ones who live here and have to deal with the mess. And there are 1-2 Catholic builders who are doing this- I feel so ashamed to think of my community members doing this. Its all about money these days. That’s the only thing that’s important.

I used to be such a timid person and you should see me now. She laughs. Now I’ve climbed on the tops of buildings and taken pictures of developments. I’ve visited all sorts of government offices, argued with builders and learnt many different types of regulations. When the first few buildings on our road came up we didn’t know the rules, what was against the law and what was not. We didn’t know how to stop them. Now we do.

I hate coming to Bangalore because its so big and crowded and polluted. That’s why we wanted to live in a place like Mangalore. Where its quiet and theres not much development happening. But development has come to Mangalore too and we will likely be like Bangalore one day. In that case we’ll have to run away from here. We’ll sell our house and go somewhere. But we’ll make a provision that the buyer cannot develop our property but he or she will have to live in it. We’ve just done it up and it’s a nice house.

It is a nice house.


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K.R. Puram trades

This case gives the brief history and trades involved.

Krishnarajpuram lies on the eastern part of Bangalore city. A large number of higher, middle and lower level income group is living in this area. Most of them are SC/ST’s, naidu, baligiga & gowda communities are living in Krishnarajpuram. The original settlers of Krishnarajpuram are SC/ST’s and naidu communities. The people living here are mainly depending upon the trading and other small business activities.

Krishnarajapuram houses large numbers of small scale industries at one side creating more job opportunities for the unskilled labourers living within the localities and at other side big industrials and technology park creating employment opportunities for skilled jobs, most of the people working in the big industries and technological park are the skilled migrants from the neighboring states.

Krishna raja puram market has its own history of 150 years. In the olden days the village common land is used for weekly market ‘Santhe’, which was allowed to function weekly ones within the radius of 4-5 kilometer. There were around 4 acres of land for santhe.

The importance of santhe is to support the farmers to market their produce grown in their land at the local level with less transport and other costs involved in marketing, which still exists in some parts of city. The common trading was held weekly one day at different locations on different days, but at present it has become a regular market for hawkers who trade every day on the santhe place. Two major group of hawkers are still hawking in krishanarajapuram from its inception i.e. K.G.F/Bangarapet and malur hawkers they are involved in trading dry fish, vegetables, pulses and grains etc. In the initial stage only 9 families were hawking in Krinarajapuram market now it has been increased radically.

The Krishnaragpuram panchayat auctions the santhe land to collect the tax from hawkers. The tenderer who takes the tender collects the tax of Rs.2 from each hawker and farmers. The panchayat was providing stone and sheds for the hawkers to protect the goods.

His grand parents was trading in Krishnarajpuram santhe – 150 years, then his mother started through his mother he entered into hawking since 40 years.

In the year 1973 the block development office constructed 20 shops on the main road measuring 10*15 each shop. The block development office was collecting rent of Rs.15/- per shop. Till 1985 these shops was incharge of BDO from 1985 onwards pura sabha (town panchayat) was incharge of collecting rent. Before town panchayat the shops was under the control of ITI sanitary board. BDO allotted one shop to Muniappa and he was paying the rent of Rs.15/- per month.

In 1985 behind the santhe, one slum was started and the slum dwellers started putting the petty shops on both the main roadside, and most of the families were also living in the shop. When these petty shops came into existence the business of the 20 shopkeepers reduced. In the year 1996-97 the government provided stone slabs to santhe hawkers this was one of the reasons for increase in hawkers and again his business reduced. As the business was reduced he discontinued his hawking for some time, because his investment was increased and the profit reduced. E.g. if he invest Rs.200/- he will get Rs.100/- as profit before but now he gets only below Rs.50/-.

When the old madras road was widen during 1993-94 again the total santhe place was reduced and business gone down. He could not get good location to hawk and also he was getting less profit and more investment was need.

He decided to start own business i.e. he purchase goods from mandi directly and distribute to wholesale and retailers hawkers in Krishnarajpuram market, the remain goods was store in his house. After few years instead buying goods from agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) he started buying directly from the farmers. As he was one of the senior hawkers in santhe he has his own hawking place to sell the goods. He does hawking from 5.30 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. all days. The wholesale, retailers, consumers and pushcart vendors purchase from him.

Later the 20 shops constructed on the main road were demolished due to road widening.

When Janatha Dal Party came to power in 1993, Mr. Ashwathnarayanareddy was elected as APMC president and he was also an MLA of that constituency. The 9th planning commission has allotted some budget for local developments; this budget was utilized for construction of 112 shops for rents. And the allotment of shops was through lottery basis, because every one wants main location. The shops was rented for hawkers on monthly rental basis by imposing certain conditions on the shopkeepers. i.e. In case if the shops are not utilized by the shopkeepers the shops will go back to CMC. Even today Muniappa is not doing business in the shop because the location is not suitable for hawking.

Muniappa pay Rs.5/- as tax to the CMC for the santhe place, and Rs.750/- rent for the shop. He belongs to ganiga-chetty community. He has good rapport with the local corporators, political parties and leaders in the santhe which helps him during crisis.

During 90’s one more interesting issues is earlier I mentioned in the surrounding areas many more small scale industries and the unskilled labour was depending on these industries for employment. Now the government authorities concentrating only on infrastructure for IT companies, so these IT companies are getting more facilities from the government on the other side the small scale industries are closing because they are not getting proper facilities like power, water etc. The small scale workers are becoming construction coolies and hawkers. Due to this the krishnarajapuram market has become one of the sources of livelihood for the small scale industries labour.

In 2002 again the National Highway Authority widened the old madras road because in the surrounding areas many IT/ITES companies are growing as the road was very narrow and lot of traffic conjunctions was more. So they planned to widen the road to control the deconjunction. Now again the hawking place has been reduced, many hawkers could not get place again they went to construction coolies. Even the number of hawkers has reduced drastically.

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History of K.R. MARKET

Krishnarajendra Market well known as K.R. Market or City Market is one of the oldest commercial centres in Bangalore. K.R. Market is situated one kilometre away from the Bangalore City Railway Station. Its area extends upto Kalasipalyam Road in the North, Binnypet Road in the South, Mysore Road in the West and Town Hall in the East.
It attracts people from all over India. Majority of the population in K.R. Market is from Tamil Nadu, especially from Salem and Dharmapuri districts. Main reasons for migration from Tamilnadu are – K.R.Market promises a living for all kinds of labours, Due to drought in their districts, Lack of irrigation in Tamil Nadu, Due to indebtedness and of course Karnataka is one of the nearest neighbouring states and easily accessible by the cheapest mode of transport.

Vandi Mode (meaning a place for parking the vehicles, those days the wooden carts).
Vandi Mode is a small slum situated in between Avenue Road and the newly constructed City Market complex. People in this area have migrated from Salem District of Tamil Nadu during 1920s. They raised tin sheet/tarpaulin sheds and constructed huts with the use of mud and coconut leaves. 40 families had migrated during that period and now the number of families have increased to 75 almost doubled. These families just living in a space 100*15 sqft. Each house consist of 5*6 or 6*8 etc, in one house minimum 3-4 families live around 12-18 members. New families entry the area as few families return to their own towns. The population of Vandimode is approximated to 600. They work as coolies on a daily wage, there are street vendors, carpenters, auto drivers, road side food stalls, loading and unloading, shopkeepers, hotel assistant, electrian, bulkcart owners, book binding, packing and marriage hall helpers etc.

Vandimode slum is a unique place where most of the sheds/huts were put on the terraces of the shops. When enquired about this, I was told that their hutments on the ground were demolished by the Corporation Authorities in 1988 in order to extend the area of the new city market complex. (This has happened even in other areas of K.R.Market for the same reason). After this sad incident, the residents requested the shopowners to allow them to use their terraces for their living and were obliged. Vandimode lacks the basic amenities such as drinking water, drainage, sanitation, bathrooms, health care centres, etc. The residents have to walk at least half a kilometre to use the public toilets or bathrooms and for every such use Re.1/- and Rs.5/- respectively have to shelled out to the person maintaining the toilet. A major share of their earning is spent on this. The people living on the terrace has to collect the kitchen waste water in a drum or a bucket for the whole day and will be thrown out only after the shops are shut down, normally at midnights. The staircases are constructed with wooden planks and it is very dangerous to climb up carrying heavy load, especially water. While climbing up one should be careful not to touch the multiple electric wires over their heads.

Sarojamma’s family is originally from Shankara Varam, a small village in Tamil Nadu. Due to major disagreements within the family, her grandparents left the village and came to Bangalore, finally settling in Vandimode slum. Sarojamma’s father was only 3 months old at the time. Because they had recently immigrated and there was little space available, the family was living and sleeping on the streets; her grandfather was working in a coconut oil wholesale shop as a coolie, earning 1 anna per day. When he was old enough, Sarojamma’s father joined her grandfather in the oil shop; he later married a girl from the same slum, and together they had 13 children – 4 male, 9 female – one of which was Sarojamma.

Illegal marriage and desertion of her husband:

Many years later, Sarojamma’s father brought a friend from the shop to the house. Who was very friendly with Sarojama. Many years later, Sarojamma’s sister and her father’s friend began having illegal relations. She had 4 children by Roman, although they never married. One day, out of curiosity, Sarojamma asked Roman to see his house; and went with him. Her father, thinking that Sarojamma had run away with him, went to Roman’s house and began shouting wildly. The family of Roman’s newly declared fiancée overheard and immediately called off the wedding. Roman, furious, blamed Sarojamma’s family for the cancellation of his marriage, and demanded that Sarojamma’s sister convince Sarojamma to marry him instead.

After 4 children, Sarojamma and Roman still had not been formally married. All were girls. Roman neglected the family, leaving them starving, and began daily beating Sarojamma because she had not given birth to any male children. Alcoholism aggravated the situation. Finally, unable to bear the harassment and hardships, Sarojamma poured kerosene on her body and lit herself on fire. Her brother, who lived next door, found her before she burned too badly and took her to the hospital.

When Sarojamma returned home to Vandimode slum, she began living again with Roman. She had no other choice. After 2 years, she gave birth to 2 boys. The harassment continued and Roman still did not take care of the family.


At 14, her second daughter was admitted to the hospital because of heart problems. But because the family could not afford permanent treatment, her condition only worsened, and after 6 months she died.
When Sarojamma came back from each visit to the hospital, her daughter told her that Roman suspected that Sarojamma was only able to finance trips to see her ill daughter by having affairs with other men. In order to clear all suspicions, Sarojamma promised her daughter that she would convert to Christianity, Roman’s religion, and legalize the marriage in the Church.

Death of her third daughter:

Her third daughter, after giving birth to 4 girls, suffered such harassment from her own husband that she committed suicide. Her son in law after 2 months he again married second time. Now all the four daughters are harassed by the step mother. The first daughter who has completed her 10th Std now working Pre Primary Teacher.

Entry to Business:

A friend from a nearby shop sympathized with Sarojamma. He encouraged her to begin her own businesses, first by reselling wooden apple boxes, and then by selling meals on the street. He gave her 7 rupees to use as investment. With those 7 rupees she bought 7 apple boxes and resold them each for 2.50 rupees; gradually the business grew and helped the family survive. She has invested Rs.16000/- for apple box business as she could not invest on her own, she takes loan for interest from the financiers on daily/weekly repayment. If principal amount paid on monthly basis the rate of interest is 10%, if it is paid daily then the interest is 20%. Sarojamma gives in advance to the whole salers before the season starts – (apple). She buys for Rs.2/per apple box from the wholesaler and resell it for Rs.4/per apple box, she gets Rs.2 as profit from each box. During the season she collects the empty apple box from the wholesalers and stores it near her house. When there is a demand for apple box she sells it for the higher prices. The damaged box are repaired and sold it. According to her the apple box business is more profitable when we invest our own money. She works as a link between the wholesale and apple mandi, and also provide job for the one person for few days during the season. When the business in K.R.Market is affected even her business is affected because during raids the wholesalers/retailers on the footpath cannot do their business so she will not get box. Her business depends upon the situation of footpath hawkers in market.

She say some times the financier also cheat her when she pays small increments to her debtors, the financiers take Sarojamma’s money but refuse to mark it down in the loan book. As a result, Sarojamma must pay the same amount several times while the interest keeps accumulating. For example, for a loan of Rs. 10,000, she paid a total of Rs. 37,000 interest.

Still today Sarojamma’s 2 sons and her 2 remaining daughters and their children – 13 people in all – live in the tiny 5’ x 8’ room, living off the meager profits from the apple box and meal sales. Her sons and sons-in-law work irregularly, loading and unloading the trucks that come to the market. Her grandchildren cannot afford to go to an English-medium school, and so will not find a good job, as all higher education is conducted in English; even if they go to the government schools, their attendance will not be regular because of problems at home, lack of food, health issues, or because they must go elsewhere to live due to lack of space at home. the situation of sarojamma is servere.

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