ON THE stones and loose soil on the incline leading to the spot where a 35-ft concrete wall collapsed over a hundred shanties in Ambedkar Nagar in Malad East on Tuesday, Sheetal Sharma (28), a nurse in a private hospital, sat under a plastic sheet strung to sticks and wires. That was where her home stood until Monday night.
Clutching two new sheets of white cloth used for covering corpses in her hand, she wept for her father Kishore Sharma and younger sister Jyoti Sharma killed in the mishap. Her mother, brother, sister-in-law and their six-month-old baby are being treated at the Kandivali Shatabdi hospital.
Sheetal, who had escaped the disaster as she worked the night shift on Monday, looked at the debris scattered around her. “Hamara samaan dhoondna hai. Neeche tak gaya hoga (We have to find our belongings. They must’ve been swept all the way down the hill),” she said.
Just like her, many grieving families stared at heaps of debris, looking for anything that could be theirs. Surviving with no possession in their name seems daunting to many now.
Political parties have been providing three meals a day to the survivors rendered homeless. Those with damaged homes too share their plight. They have nothing to cook with and nowhere to sleep. “We have no grains at home, our mattresses and blankets have been washed away. Our home may not have been wiped out, but it is empty. Someone is bringing us food every day but how many days will that last?” asked Harshada Tarte, who lives in a shanty near which, bodies of two women were found on Wednesday.
A JCB machine owned by the BMC plunged into the debris at the centre of the destruction all through Wednesday afternoon. Local residents believed that another body would be found. Though no body could be found, they curiously examined things that emerged from under the debris — utensils, some that contained cooked food, clothes and anything that could be of use.
At the other site of destruction in Pimpri Pada, a JCB drill excavator pounded into the concrete wall that lay flat on the ground and piled up broken chunks of concrete and metal rods on one side. While the shanties around it had been vacated, six men and a woman ripped open a crushed metal cupboard with a hammer and removed plastic bags and boxes that they could find inside.
While meals came in paper plates, and the BMC deployed its doctors to administer basic treatment to the injured at Ambedkar Nagar, the locals, who grieved on Tuesday, were angry on Wednesday.
“Politicians come here before elections asking for our vote. What are they doing for us now? Are they going to give us permanent shelters? Where are we expected to live?” asked Suresh Rana.
Ashish Yadav, who works at the Goregaon Film City, said: “The state government needs to see that this place is no longer fit to live in.”
Shivaji Suryavashi, an autorickshaw driver, who was among the many manually rummaging through debris, said: “Shouldn’t we have sniffer dogs here to help us search for bodies? The NDRF is deployed only at Pimpri Pada. Shouldn’t there be more authorities here?”
While the NDRF men in orange uniforms were missing at Ambedkar Nagar on Wednesday, officers from the Kurar police, a few from the Mumbai Fire Brigade and BMC labourers helped clear the debris.
Those with no roof over their head, spent Tuesday night with friends, neighbours and some at the Kurar Gaon Parek Nagar BMC school, about a kilometre from Ambedkar Nagar. Rupesh Kadam, a Yuva Sena functionary, said he had opened 10 flats in a building he owns in Malad to house families of the deceased.
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