Namma Mane | Our Home: Srinivasa Colony

 

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Shelters in Srinivasa Colony are built from found materials.  Doors are made with broken wood pieces, walls of mud and the roofs are of constructed with bright blue plastic tarps and bamboo.  The average size of each shelter is 10×8 to 10×15 square feet and occupancy often ranges from 4 to 8 people.

Introduction:
Srinivasa Colony
is an undeclared migrant settlement in North Bangalore on 2 acres of cleared land, surrounded by construction sites of future office buildings and high rises. The surrounding suburban area is experiencing rapid development due to population growth and its connectivity to a major road (Pakka Road). The settlement became known as Srinivasa Colony because of its proximity to the Srinivasa Nagar suburban neighborhood. This surrounding neighbourhood is now a booming  real estate development, with several skeletons of future apartment complexes emerging in the landscape.

Originally a migrant settlement of 35 construction workers, Srinivasa Colony started in 2007.  Currently, there are approximately 50 households and 225 individuals.  The residents of Srinivasa Colony come from two different rural villages: Raichur district, 454 kilometers north of Bangalore and Gulbarga district, 576 kilometers north of Bangalore. Both groups of residents are part of particular Scheduled Tribes Castes.  Scheduled Tribes (STs) are official designations by the Indian government given to various groups of historically disadvantaged people.

Although no official sanghas (community organizations) or neighborhood associations exist in Srinivasa Colony, the residents still have strong community bonds and multiple generations of family live together in this tightly knit community.  The migrant settlement was formed due to an increase in opportunities for construction work in the expanding area, but Srinivasa Colony residents now fear the increasing development of the neighborhood will eventually force their eviction.

The land belongs to the Venkateshwar Temple, which is located on a hill directly above the settlement.  Residents pay monthly rent to the Temple Pundit ( chief priest).  In Hindu Venkateshwara is another name for the Hindu God, Srinivasa, known as the protector of place and home.  While the temple does provide some protection from eviction for the settlers, Srinivasa Colony still faces many challenges including limited access to resources and widespread illness especially among children.

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Rapid urbanization has caused real estate investors to expand from Bangalore’s city center to more remote locations in the city’s suburbs.  Large-scale development projects surround the Srinivasa Colony.  Although the settlement provides labor force to support construction efforts, the community faces a series of threats of eviction from the surrounding neighborhood. There is tension between the people of  Srinivasa colony and Srinivasa Nagar  neighborhood, which often inhibits them from accessing public resources such as water and connection to electricity.

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Srinivasa Colony’s population is composed of migrant workers and their families originating from 2 different rural villages: Raichur and Gulbarga districts.  The shelters are arranged by district-75% of the people belongs to Raichur district scheduled tribe and 25% of the people belongs to Gulbarga district scheduled tribe.

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From left:Mounesh, Hemanth, Mariyamma(lady) with her baby and Bhimarao.  Families who have migrated from Gulbarga district live closer to the entrance of the colony in close groups. Mariyamma, 20 years old, was married to her husband Mounesh and then migrated from a rural village in the Gulbarga district two years ago. Mounesh , Hemanth and Bhimarao are brothers also originally from the Gulbarga district.  All three work as a carpenters in nearby construction site.

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Aunt Hanumanthi, 40 , lives with her two sons, Chennappa 20 and Mallu 16,who are working in construction. She says” Women migrate from our villages to support the family. I have been living in Srinivasa Colony for 6 months and all day my job is cooking and watching my brother’s grandchildren. I would love to spend some time in my home village with my husband Ayyana”

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Hanumanthi , 65 years, has lived in the colony 6 years and explains, “I am here only to take care of my great grandchildren.” She lives with her family members and resides at her elder son’s house Mallaiah. Hanumanthi is the oldest person in the community.

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Hindu is the primary religion in the Srinivasa Colony and the majority of people practice daily worship of the Sanskritzed Hindu Gods. Icons of the Gods are placed facing East direction in every home as per the Hindu custom.

_MG_1810Mariyamma prays daily for protection of her children  She says,”Since, we have taken loans from money lenders we have to work daily as wage labor. I have to secure my child’s life, provide good education and don’t want my child to become involved in any petty work.”

_MG_1865When asked about her daily life, Mariyamma says, “ I have to get up early morning around 4am then prepare food for everyone . At times, I have to go for work along with my husband. I have a baby that is my responsibility. In my home village I could get support from other relatives but here , I cannot trust strangers. Sometimes, we work more than men”. Men in Srinivasa Colony work construction an average of 5 days a week, women sometimes assist with construction work alongside the men in addition to their regular domestic duties.

_MG_2696Many residents in the Srinivasa Colony are prone to occupational hazards from their work at construction sites . Mallaiah, 57, is the one of the first people to inhabit the colony in 2007.  He is recently suffering from chest pain due to lifting heavy construction materials . Despite this hardship he believes, “Today’s hard work will secure our next generation”.

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Children are sent to Anganwadi to get started with formal education. Teachers teach basic English and Kannada alphabets , rhymes and stories. The school is government funded and provides mid day meal to students. Residents of colony are happy in sending their children to Aanganwadi. *Anganwadi is run by Government under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS),which was initiated in the year 2010.

_MG_1206Apart from sending children to Aanganwadi, some children go to a nearby Government aided primary school. The school holds up to 5th standard and has two teachers to teach kids who are from Srinivasa colony and neighbourhood. Subjects taught are Mathematics, Social Studies and Kannada.  The primary school however, is overcrowded and understaffed.  Alternative academic opportunities are limited for the children that live in Srinivasa Colony.

_MG_1119Gangamma is 26 years of age, living with her husband Yellappa in Srinivasa Colony for the past 3 years. She is a mother of 3 children: Pallavi, Uday and Manoj who are of 10, 3 and 2 years of age. Children of Gangamma, particularly her daughter Pallavi, are often sick. Gangamma explains the primary reason for her family’s migration is the lack of a medical facility in their home village and that they came to Srinivasa Colony to secure more income in order to have their daughter admitted to a private city hospital.

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From left: Renuka, Gangamma, Manoj, Shankaramma.  Multi generational families are common in the settlement.  Gangamma and Renuka are married and live with their husbands and children in the colony and are also daughters of Gowramma.

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Gowramma, 50 years old, has been living with her 21 year old son, Sridhara, in Srinivasa Colony for over a year. She is originally from Demgollahalli village in the Raichur district. Gowramma is a homemaker wherein she cooks everyday for her son, who works in nearby construction site. Her two daughters are married and live in the same colony with their husband and children. Apart from her daily chores, Gowramma spends the rest of her time taking care of her grandchildren.

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After a day of playing on the street, Anila , 4, comes back home to have a nap. Anila is the granddaughter of Gowramma, who says Anila is frequently ill.

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Health and hygiene is looked as the prime concern amongst members of colony. Women report that children often fall sick due to unhealthy lifestyle. Children catch cold and fever from fellow mates and are treated by allopathy medicines /syrups which are bought from nearby medical shop.

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Yearly and monthly vaccinations are often given to children in their native villages since they are provided free of cost.  Gangamma, loves her son Manoj, 3 years. She says “ My son often falls sick due to unhygienic conditions in the colony. I do not send him out of the house because he might catch cold from another child.”

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A young child mimics her mother’s occupation as a construction helper.  The majority of the childrens’ parents work in construction sites surrounding the colony for an average household income of Rs10,000 per month.

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Introductory Text + Captions| Sai Saranya Bhanumoorthy & Mansoor Md
Photographs + Text| Jenny Jacqueline Stratton 
Produced by the P2P Research Team (2014) 

 

 

 

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