Three weeks after 40 homes of Rohingya refugees were destroyed in a blaze at Kanchan Kunj camp in Kalindi Kunj, 228 residents received plenty of promises — but little respite. A day after the April 15 fire, the Delhi government had built a temporary shelter for the residents on an adjacent plot, and AAP MLA from Okhla Amanatullah Khan had promised compensation of Rs 25,000 for each family. “That shelter was removed after five days, and we haven’t got any compensation from the government. We were told that five days is the duration for which the government extends such aid during disasters,” claimed Kabir Ahmed, who is now living in a makeshift tent nearby.
Asked about this, Khan alleged the shelter was removed under orders from officials, and he was not aware of it.
On compensation not having been given, he said he had sent the files to the Divisional Commissioner the day after his visit to the site on April 16.
Defence Colony SDM Neeraj Aggarwal told The Indian Express, “The file for compensation has been sent to the Delhi government. We are awaiting further directions in this matter.”
For now, a cluster of yellow and green tarpaulin tents are home to the displaced families. The tents have been put up by the Zakat Foundation, an NGO that had also built the camp that burnt to the ground. Every now and then, someone drops by to donate clothes or livelihood aids such as sewing machines.
Reconstruction of the homes, being undertaken by Zakat Foundation, appears to be proceeding at snail’s pace. When The Indian Express visited the spot, eight labourers were toiling in the sweltering heat. Abdul Karim, a ‘zimmedar’ at the camp, said, “A couple of days ago, the engineer in-charge told me work should be finished in two months, but that looks unlikely.”
A day after the fire, Khan had said, “In a few days, the homes should be ready.”
On Saturday, residents also built two makeshift toilets near the tents. Adding to the crisis is the sweltering heat which, residents said, has made them prone to health problems. Showing a medical bill of Rs 310 from a private hospital, Tasleema Begum, mother of a seven-month-old baby, said, “My daughter has had diarrhoea for the last few days… a lot of children have been sick. We lost all our belongings in the fire, money is low, and these medical bills are an added burden.”
Residents also claimed that a water tanker that used to be sent by the Delhi government daily had not come for the last three days, forcing them to consume tap water.
When contacted, Delhi Jal Board vice-chairman Dinesh Mohaniya said, “This is an open-for-all facility. If supply has not been coming, there must be some problem at the local dispensing unit. I will call them up and rectify the situation.”
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