ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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KARNATAKA- Housing the Urban Poor

EVER since the historic Supreme Court judgment of July 10, 1985 on the Bombay pavement and slum dwellers case (Olga Tellis and others vs the Bombay Municipal Corporation) and the Tamil Nadu slum dwellers case (K Chandru and others vs the State of Tamil Nadu), it has become obvious that slum evictions touch upon the very survival of people. The right to life, guaranteed in Art 21 of the Constitution, as the court acknowledges, cannot be separated from the right to livelihood. Thus, slum eviction, wherever it does not provide liveable alternatives within the reach of the workplace of people has a tendency to become genocidal. Remarkably enough, the judgment nevertheless endorsed evictions, leaving them however open to challenge: "The State may not, by affirmative action, be compellable to provide adequate means of livelihood or work to the citizens. But, any person, who is deprived of his right to livelihood except according to just and fair procedures established by law, can challenge the deprivation as offending the right to life conferred by Article 21." The trend towards eviction in the big cities like Bombay, Madras, Bangalore is alarming and it has spread nowadays to smaller towns like Mysore, Hubli, Ballary, Madurai and others. All this is done in the name of 'development; 'public health', and 'city beautification'. The monsoon deadlines have run out, new stay orders are being fought for or have been obtained. At present a controversy is on whether the new stay order for Tamil Nadu issued in the middle of December is valid for the whole state or only for Madras. In the meantime, evictions do take place on a limited scale and the movement for the defence of the rights of slum dwellers is gathering strength. The question arises whether this people's movement can develop liveable alternatives.

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