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Call For Protection Of People's Right Along with Heritage Conservation In Hampi
August 17, 2011

Call for Action
 

Call For Protection Of People's Right Along with Heritage Conservation In Hampi

FRIENDS OF HAMPI,SHREE SHARADA WOMEN WELFARE ASSOCIATION,HAMPI,SHREE MAHARSHI VALMIKI SANGHA, HAMPI,SHREE HAMPI VIJAYANAGARA GUIDES UNION,HAMPI,SHREE VIJAYANAGARA AUTO DRIVERS UNION, HAMPI,CITIZENS RIGHTS AND PROTECTION FORUM, HAMPI and EQUATIONS, BENGALURU

17 August 2011

We condemn the inhuman and illegal eviction and demolition at Hampi Bazaar:  Hampi has been more than just a collection of ruins scattered in a magnificent landscape. It is part of the historical and ancient city of Vijayanagara, which has survived as a living site. Here visitors  experience the dynamism and colour of a vibrant bazaar. Today the Hampi Bazaar is facing a crisis, with it having been illegally demolished. Eviction notices were issued a few hours before the demolition, giving no time and opportunity for people to respond and react to the notices. Neither alternate housing nor clear guidelines for conducting business were issued prior to the eviction.  The fallout of this demolition has been that many families, some with small children and some with aged people have been pushed on to the streets, do not have a place to live, and livelihoods have been affected. To endorse this statement please send a mail to campaigns@equitabletourism.org.

1. Shri V. Kishore Chandra Deo,
Minister for Panchayati Raj.
Government of India,
Krishi Bhavan,
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road,
New Delhi – 110 001

2. Kumari Selja, 
Minister of Culture,
Government of India,
Room No. 501,'C' Wing,
Shastri Bhawan,
New Delhi-110115

3. Shri. Subodh Kant Sahay,
Ministry of Tourism
Government of India,
Transport Bhawan,
#1, Parliament Street,
New Delhi – 110 001

4. Shri. Jairam Ramesh,
Ministry of Rural Development
Room no 48, Krishi Bhawan,
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road,
New Delhi – 110001

5. Shri. Sadananda Gowda,
Chief Minister and Minister for  Kannada & Culture and Tourism
Government of Karnataka
Room No.323,
3rd Floor, Vidhana Soudha,
Bengaluru -560001

Subject: We condemn the inhuman and illegal eviction and demolition at Hampi Bazaar

Hampi has been more than just a collection of ruins scattered in a magnificent landscape. It is part of the historical and ancient city of Vijayanagara, which has survived as a living site. Here visitors (domestic, foreign, pilgrims, researchers etc) experience the dynamism and colour of a vibrant bazaar.

About 4000 families live in Hampi, which is governed by the Village Panchayat. People started living in Hampi in the early 1940's. The street facing the Virupaksha temple is popularly called Hampi bazaar, or Virupaksha Bazaar. Historically, it was also known as Chariot Street. Hampi Bazaar is one of the many heritage sites in Hampi, a focal point of the village and an important tourist destination. Before demotion, the Bazaar consisted of rows of shops selling numerous products like jewels, embroidered textiles and antique coins as mementos and other artefacts.

Today the Hampi Bazaar is facing a crisis, with it having been illegally demolished. Eviction notices were issued a few hours before the demolition, giving no time and opportunity for people to respond and react to the notices. Neither alternate housing nor clear guidelines for conducting business were issued prior to the eviction. Based on the statistics from the Department of Tourism, Government of Karnataka, over the last two years there has been a threefold increase in tourist inflow to this region. In 2009 the tourist arrivals in Hampi, Hospet was more than 10 lakhs, and this increased to more than 13 lakhs in 2010. More than 200 families living in Hampi for the past 40 – 50 years are completely dependent on tourism and tourism related activities.

On 28th July 2011 afternoon, the Deputy Commissioner of Bellary issued oral warnings to more than 200 families, asking them to move within 24 hours, so that the process of demolition could`1 be initiated. Issuing of notices started around 7:30 pm and continued until 12:30 am in the night of 28th July 2011. Despite the families requesting that they be given an opportunity to be heard, the district administration refused to provide them any such opportunity and informed them that they would have no say in the matter as the decision to demolish their homes and shops had already been taken.

On 29th July 2011, the district officials came to demolish the homes and shops of the persons living therein, and used the premise of the existence of a High Court Order directing the demolition. On 29th July 2011, just before the demolition was to happen, when the MLA of Hospet and the people of the Bazaar asked for a copy of the High Court Order, it was not produced. In actuality, the High Court had only asked for a status report on July 25th, 2011, and had not ordered the demolition. Despite all the efforts of the Panchayat members, local communities and the people’s representatives, the District authorities went ahead with the demolition. When people questioned the district administration, they were threatened that cases would be filed against them and were told that they will be “booked under Section 420”. Why should a person be arrested while asserting rights, which are guaranteed under the Constitution of India? Further, when the people whose homes were being demolished were in silent protest, lathi charge was made on them, and some of them were even kept in detention in the police vans.

The fallout of this demolition has been that many families, some with small children and some with aged people have been pushed on to the streets, do not have a place to lives, and livelihoods have been affected. The authorities have not provided any rehabilitation to the families inspite of the court ordering the state Government to look into the matter in W.P. No. 29843/2009.

All the persons whose homes and shops have been destroyed have been residing in the said spot and have been running small shops and businesses to eke out their livelihood for decades. They have been provided pattas, licences by the Gram Panchayat and have also been regularly paying their taxes.

Tourism has often led to cultural commodification and twisting culture out of its context, meaning and functions. The tourist sees what is promoted and not how communities see themselves through their cultural practices. A scrutiny of the attractive tourist brochures and websites of central and state tourism departments, including the “Incredible India Campaign” by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, provides ample evidence for this.

Beyond the specific issue of the illegal demolition of 29th July 2011, is the much broader issue of inclusiveness in the strategising and planning for the conservation of the heritage site. Few questions/issues confronting us are:

  1. Were the local people consulted before Hampi was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
  2. What is the constitutional mandate for the creation of the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority Act 2002, when there is a progressive Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, 1993.
  3. What has been the inclusive process in the formation of the Master Plan 2021.
  4. The people of Hampi have rights like people living in any other village in India and that the UNESCO tag on Hampi has fundamentally impacted the lives and livelihood of the people.

Initial discussions with communities living in Hampi make evident that there has been much anxiety since the site has been declared as World Heritage under the UNESCO convention. No attempts seem to have been made by the state government to address these anxieties. Instead, the situation has been exacerbated with repeated threats of eviction with every new draft master plan and the use of the pretext of the case filed in the High Court of Karnataka by Shri Kotturswamy Kalyana Kendra against the State of Karnataka through W.P. No 29843/2009.

Hampi is not just a historical heritage site. While many tourists visit the site due to its heritage status, the majority of the visitors are devotees of the temple and researchers. Tourism's multifarious role and its economic contribution in the region has not been sufficiently acknowledged.

The primacy that has been attributed to the heritage status needs to be relooked and instead a need to see Hampi as a place where people and the heritage it depicts share a symbiotic relationship.

We condemn the approach of the State Government and the District administration for the following specific reasons (detailed note attached)
  1. Violation of Human Rights: Homes and Livelihood
  2. Violation of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy
  3. Violation of Principles of Natural Justice
  4. Misleading the public 
  5. Superseding the powers of Panchayats
  6. Violation of democratic processes
  7. Role of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

We demand that National and State Government take immediate steps to address the following:
  1. Constitute a Commission of Enquiry into the sequence of events around this demolition and after, and take action as appropriate particularly in the case of misuse or abuse of power by government officials.  
  2. To hold the District Administration accountable for giving false information to public.
  3. To provide proper rehabilitation to the families evicted in an appropriate place where their livelihood options not be adversely affected or put back in possession of the properties they were residing in/ using for their trade.
  4. To compensate the families for the grave damage and loss caused to their lives, and property.
  5. To withdraw all further threats to common people including the imminent threat of demolishing of properties in Jantha Plot in Hampi.
  6. Revisit the constitutional mandate for the creation of the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority Act 2002 and examine its role and powers in retaliation to usurpation of local governance rights as per Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, 1993. Amend or repeal the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority Act, 2002, so that local constitutional bodies may reclaim their full constitutional role in to planning, governance and decision.
  7. To have clear guidelines demarcating clear role for all the stakeholders involved in management of the Heritage area and to ensure that all processes there in are participatory, inclusive, democratic and constitutional.

We also Demand that UNESCO address the following:
UNESCO upholds the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights concerned also appears in the United Nations Covenants of 16 December 1966 of Article 27 (The right to participate freely in cultural life) and Article 19 (the right to information, including freedom of opinion). In the case of demolition at Hampi these have been clearly violated. UNESCO must actively and publicly condemn such acts to impress upon local, state and national authorities that World Heritage tags cannot be earned or retained sacrificing human and democratic processes and respect for the rule of law.

Through this letter and campaign, we the undersigned urge the Union Ministers and Chief Minister of Karnataka to urgently look into the matter and ensure justice to the families living in Hampi.

Click here to download 'Call For Protection Of People's Right Along with Heritage Conservation In Hampi-17 August 2011 EQUATIONS', 98.4kb.

Click here to download 'Call For Protection Of People's Right Along with Heritage Conservation In Hampi-Kannada-17 EQUATIONS', 61.9kb.

Click here to download 'Inhuman and Illegal Eviction and Demolition at Hampi Bazaar-17 August 2011-EQUATIONS', 106Kb.

To endorse this statement please send a mail to campaigns@equitabletourism.org

OR

Contact us at: campaigns@equitabletourism.org
EQUATIONS, # 415, 2C-Cross,
4th Main, OMBR Layout,
Banaswadi, Bengaluru 560043, India
www.equitabletourism.org