Friday, Oct 31, 2014

Rendered homeless, 4,000 find shelter in tents, rebuild homes

After a massive fire gutted their shanties, residents have taken shelter in tents in Vasant Kunj. (Praveen Khanna) After a massive fire gutted their shanties, residents have taken shelter in tents in Vasant Kunj. (Praveen Khanna)
Written by Siddhartha Gupta | New Delhi | Posted: April 27, 2014 12:47 am

A day after over 700 shanties were gutted in a fire in Masoodpur area of Vasant Kunj, the slum residents have been forced to take shelter in makeshift camps set up in the area where their homes once stood.

Setting aside their losses, many of them could be seen rebuilding their homes using bamboo sticks. Rectangular structures made of bamboo stood next to tents erected by the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).

“We can’t keep mourning over what happened. We need some place to live. So those of us who still have some money left bought bamboo sticks and started building a shelter for ourselves. The rest are staying in tents,” Vinod, whose family was among those who could afford the bamboo sticks, said.

According to residents, bamboo sticks cost Rs 150 each — the total cost of bamboo for a house would be around Rs 2,000. “Then there is the cost of sheets and labour charges, because we have to employ labourers for tasks that we can’t do ourselves,” one of the residents said.

Officials of the DDMA said a door-to-door counting exercise is being carried out to ascertain the number of people rendered homeless in the fire. Rough estimate puts it around 4,000.

They also said 105 EPIP (European Privates Indian Pattern) tents have been erected at the site to house residents. One such tent caters to around five families. Officials said 35 water tankers have been pressed into service to provide drinking water to residents.

“We are doing all we can. They have tents. Some of them have also been provided mosquito nets. We have also done fogging in the area to ward off mosquitoes. The area has been well-lit and mobile toilets have been installed. A health camp has also been organised,” the official said.

NGO workers could be seen pitching in to help by providing food and clothes to victims. Col. Prem Dutt Sharma, general secretary of Uni Disaster Management and Rural Development Society, a Pitampura-based NGO, said they had so far served 10 quintals of rice and four quintals of dal to the victims.

Most victims, many of whom come from Bihar, Assam and West Bengal, felt that the administration and the NGOs have done enough for them.

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