Potters in Pottery town are living in fear of displacement and losing their livelihood as BMRCL started vacating their shops for Namma Metro construction.
Bengaluru: Around 40 families in Pottery Town faced the threat of displacement as the Metro line runs through the 200-year-old neighborhood. The potters allege that they have been asked to vacate the premises without any notice and have not been assured of either compensation or rehabilitation. Arvind, whose family is living there since Independence, said, “All of us are scared because of the Metro work. If this place is gone, we cannot do anything. If we go to some other place, we will have the problem of firing our pots. If we work here for one day, we will get food for the next day so if we don’t work for one day also, we have to remain hungry.”
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is constructing an underground metro station in that area. The Phase 2 Metro construction started in 2019 and will be completed by 2024. Pottery Town is home to many families that depend on the art of pottery for a living. The small lane located in Benson Town acts as a manufacturer and wholesale distributor of pots and other clay work. Ravi Prakash the Public Relations officer of BMRCL said, “Some of them (potters) are already being relocated and some compensation has been given to them. We don’t know the compensation amount. And they all moved out.” Currently, the Featherlight Public School is being used as a storage site for the construction materials of the project. The premises of the school have been marked by the BMRCL and the entry is restricted.
Moreover, many helpers from the nearby slums will be left jobless if BMRCL demolishes Pottery Town. They are completely dependent upon these potters for their livelihood. Arvind said that 6 helpers work under him and if they are forced to shut their shop, these helpers have to work as daily wage workers in construction sites. The footfall of consumers has also dropped because of the construction. Arvind added, “People think that metro work is going on so there will be no shop, they will be vacated from this place. We receive every few customers now because of this metro construction.”
Lawyer of Karnataka High court Srihari NV said, “BMRCL concerning metro rail construction, ideally the authority would issue notices to the landowner and some compensation would also be awarded as far as the acquisition is concerned in accordance to the law. The primary question that arises is those potters have occupied or they are the owners of the land.” The potters have requested the BMRCL to spare at least half of the land so that they can continue their work. When asked about their future plans if the metro project comes to fruition, the artisans said they have no plans. It will be very difficult for them to move out from pottery town, as the manual fire technique, which they use now, cannot be done anywhere else.