Imagine a ‘village’ with brand new concrete homes on well tarred roads, complete with vitrified tiles, spacious living room with sleek wooden entertainment cabinets, plush sofa sets, television, comfortable bedrooms, attached toilets with stainless steel fittings, overhead shower and a well-equipped kitchen with gas stove and refrigerator!
Well, that’s the Somapura village for you. Nestled about 4 kms interior in the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) close to the clover leaf junction, Somapura is the first of the 143 villages enroute the BMIC that has been ‘rehabilitated’ by the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) Ltd.
“It was the vision of our Managing Director, Ashok Kheny to rehabilitate all the villages that come under the BMIC so that we are able to upgrade their standard of living and provide them with a lifestyle which they would have never dreamt of,” apprises Manjunath Nayaker, General Manager, Public Relations and Liaison, NICE Ltd.
Not long before, Somapura was a cluster of 23 thatched mud houses which barely had rooms or roofs, leave alone toilets and compound walls. When NICE began the construction of their road there and proposed acquisition of their land, initially there was resistance. The villagers thought like any other development project this one too will be at the cost of their homes.
However, after getting the land allotted by the government, NICE not only gave them the due compensation for their respective land, but came up with a proposition of building good, concrete homes for them, though it was not a part of the deal. The new sites allotted to each of the villagers were nearly double the size of the old plot they owned. The layout has 2 to 3 bedroom houses depending upon the size of the plot.
Says Ramaiah, one of the residents of the Somapura village, “When NICE told us they will provide us ‘new’ houses, we did not believe them. We agreed reluctantly. And today, we have not only got compensation for our land, but own a plush new home in the prestigious BMIC corridor. My son has even got employment with NICE. If the government would have acquired our land, we would not have got all this.”
Built and developed at a total cost of around Rs 2 crores, it took NICE around one year to complete the construction. “Though the houses were planned by us, we got the villagers to participate in the construction at every step. Those who wanted to build their home differently were even provided contractors, who helped them construct a house of their choice,” explains Manjunath.
Today, Somapura can be called an ‘urban township’ in every sense of the word. The layout has power, a separate water tank, a borewell for potable drinking water, street lights, sewage system, cable TV connections, a school where the children of the village study, a community hall, primary health centers, job training centers and even places of worship!
It will take around Rs 300 crores for NICE to rehabilitate and rebuild all the 143 villages along their 111 km expressway toMysore. NICE also proposes to build warehouses and cold storage facilities for farmers to store their produce and also some hospitals and primary health centers for the villagers.
Concludes Kamalamma, a grandmother of 4, who lives in a spacious 3 bedroom house of 1400 sft in Somapura,“ Thatched roof and mud houses sound primitive to us now. We are happy to lead a city life!”