Residents of Damu Nagar slum, who had lost their homes to a fire which gutted about 2,000 shanties and claimed two lives on December 7, are thoroughly disappointed with the paltry amount of Rs 3,800 as gratuitous relief per family.
Many residents refused to accept the amount from collectorate officials in protest and submitted a written plea seeking more compensation.
Sandeep Patekar, belonging to a family of six, was one of the residents who rejected the compensation stating that it was barely enough to cover expenses for food.
“In a city like Mumbai, what is Rs 3,800? It will be spent in two days for food and basic supplies. We lost about Rs 30,000 in cash in the fire along with everything else. How will we rebuild our lives with Rs 3,800,” asked Patekar.
He added that a small number of families had been allotted SRA flats in Chandivli but many others were still waiting. Vilas Rohimal, another resident, stated that he had long submitted his documents for an allocation but was still waiting for his turn. “We have been living in this area for the last 16 years. We were promised that we would be allotted a flat within two years but have not heard from the authorities for years now,” said Rohimal.
He returned the compensation amount and also wrote a letter to District Collector of Mumbai Suburbs Shekhar Channe.
“Everything the families owned was burnt to ashes. We have to start our life from scratch for which we need at least one lakh per family. We have thus demanded for more compensation and a pucca house,” he said.
Srikanth Singh, 32, is the sole breadwinner of his family and works in a jewellery shop in Malad which pays him a monthly salary of Rs 7,500. Though his salary is barely able to make ends meet for his family of five, Singh also refused to accept the relief amount. “We lost vessels worth much more than the amount the government is offering to us. We have received more monetary help from people who have been helping us for the last two days,” he said.
Singh said that the aggrieved families who had been living among the charred remains of their houses were hopeful of help from the government to rebuild their lives.
“The relief amount is useless and provides relief to no one. We want the government to give us accommodation either here or anywhere else,” he said.
Many others, however, accepted the amount and were hopeful for more. Avinash Magare, a junior college student stated that while the amount won’t do much, his family desperately needed some money. “We lost everything in the fire and we need the money for the essential supplies. But I hope that the government will extend more help which we are in dire need of,” said Magare.
According to the survey of assessing the damage in the fire conducted by the collectorate officials over the last two days, a total of 1,100 families were affected.
Navnath Jare, Deputy Collector of Mumbai Suburbs, confirmed that people had submitted written complaints.
“We have distributed the relief amount to 675 families. Some people were unhappy with the amount and gave a written letter which I have forwarded to the collector who will forward it to the state government. The state government will then decide the future course of action,” he said.
In response to people’s demands, he said that there were no such orders for any additional relief from the state government as of now.