A PRIVATE school has come to the rescue of hundreds of slum dwellers rendered homeless at Pimpri Pada in Malad East’s Kurar village. The wall collapse incident around Monday midnight, which killed 26 and injured at least 132 people, while left many homeless, several whose shanties had a narrow escape, have also left with belongings fearing another mishap.
On Tuesday afternoon, Queen Mary High School opened its 12 classrooms housed in two storeys for the disaster-struck. Principal Deepu Ravindran decided to keep academic sessions shut from junior kindergarten till Class X till Wednesday.
On Thursday, the school resumed classes at 7 am for its 2,500 students, requesting slum dwellers to wait until the classes were over. “Two of the classrooms will still be kept open for them,” said Dinesh Jadhav, attached with the local Shiv Sena unit. He added that at least 65 huts in Pimpri Pada and double the number in Ambedkar Nagar have been washed out.
Sitting in one of the two classrooms with her son Abhishek, Sharda Karude, who lost her three-year-old daughter Akanksha in the incident, said: “We stacked the chairs and benches on one side, and slept on floor in the school. At least we have some place to go to at night to sleep… We shared the room with 20-25 people. There was no chaadar, but it didn’t matter. We have lost everything. At least there is a roof overhead.”
Sharda spent early Tuesday on temple stairs after her hut was washed away, while her husband searched for their three-year-old. On Wednesday, when her daughter’s body was found, people gathered to console her. On Thursday, as she sifted in the debris looking for anything, her utensils, clothes, identification documents, she said: “I am worried how long the school will accommodate us.”
A junior KG teacher said they were asked to take leave for two days. “Several children who study here died or lost their homes. We are yet to count how many.” Local NGOs are providing meals and water every morning to the school, set up in 1988.
On Thursday, after Jyoti Nanavare left a classroom at 5 am, she took refuge under a roof nearby, sitting cross legged with her two children sleeping on her lap. Her husband Rohit was where their hut stood once, looking to piece together whatever belongings he could find.
She stares ahead, at the school gates. “The government should provide us some alternative shelter. For how long will we live like this? I haven’t changed or bathed, but that is least of my concern. We have to start from scratch to rebuild our lives.”
Another temporary shelter for the residents of Pimpri Pada has been Shiv Sena’s shakha 42 and the adjoining room of Vadar Seva Samaj, where many women lay in wait on Thursday.
From a stack of donated clothes from nearby residential buildings, one by one, women picked whatever may fit their family members. Donations came in the form of sarees, snacks and water bottles.
The women included relatives who had come from other districts after hearing about the disaster. Among them was Akku Jadhav from Osmanabad, the mother of 18-year-old Komal Jadhav Mane, who was killed in the mishap. Komal had moved to Pimpri Pada only two months ago after she got married.