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Karnataka HC orders state govt to rebuild huts of migrant workers razed after lockdown

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The Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the state government to reconstruct structures and hutments of migrant workers at Kacharakanahalli, east Bengaluru, which were brought down after the lockdown.

The order was passed by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty while hearing a suo motu petition which was filed after taking cognisance of a letter petition filed by Advocate Vaishali Hegde.

The Court directed that the State, within two months time, at its own cost, should reconstruct huts/structures of uniform pattern of affected families whose houses were burnt down in Bengaluru East.

“It is not as if three sets of houses were destroyed in one day. On 24 March 2020, some huts were burned; on 30 March, (a) few more huts were burned. In April, several houses were destroyed by use of JCB. Thus, this not a solitary incident. The entire machinery of the state government was aware of this incident. Till this court intervened, there was no attempt made to rehabilitate the affected families,” the bench observed.

The court pointed out that there were quite a few such incidents where such hutments or shanties were burnt down after the lockdown was announced and until the court intervened, the state did not make any attempt to compensate the affected persons.

It was also clarified by the Court that the structures constituted encroachment on government property and the concerned authorities are free to take action of removal of the reconstructed structures as the court is not creating any equity for the affected families.

The bench ordered to complete the process of distribution of compensation of Rs 14,100, in relation to identified families.

The court has directed the State government to file a compliance report by February 6, 2021 and stated that the state government may take assistance from NGOs for reconstruction of the huts. The case will next be heard on February 11, 2021.

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