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Monday, 16 November 2020

80 jhuggis burnt at slum in Saketri, 220 homeless

Amit Bathla

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 15

A fire that broke out at a slum of Saketri in the afternoon yesterday reduced around 80 jhuggis to ashes, rendering more than 220 migrants homeless. No loss of life was reported.

"After receiving an alert around 3:15 pm, 12-13 fire engines, including one from Kalka, were rushed to the spot. It took them more than 3 hours to put out the fire," said a fire official. The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained, he added.

The next morning around 7 am, Sukh Devi, a mother of five, was rummaging through the charred remains of her home, hoping to recover even a small portion of Rs 80,000 she and her husband had saved with their hard work.

A migrant sits besides his utensils after the fire at the Saketri slum in Panchkula on Sunday. photo: Ravi Kumar

"I lost around Rs 80,000 kept inside the house. I and my husband work as bricklayers," she said. The family, including her bed-ridden mother-in-law, spent the night in the fields.

Kishan Wati claimed to have lost jewellery and other precious items worth over Rs 2.50 lakh. She said: "Firstly, the virus brought us to knees and now this fire has devastated us."

Most of the jhuggis in the area belong to daily wage labourers.

Several NGOs and social workers arranged shelter, adequate potable water and food for the slum dwellers.

Joginder Sharma, Tehsildar, said: "The authorities did what best they could have with the help of local residents. The rehabilitation work is under way. The victims are being provided with cooked food, blankets and ration items," he said.

'Help came late'

Local Congress leader Ranjeeta Mehta alleged the fire engines reached the spot late. "Two fire engines couldn't be used due to unknown reasons. The local authorities had to call in fire engines from Chandigarh," she said.

Firefighters ill-equipped

An official of the Fire Department said the department had been grappling with issues such as shortage of firefighting vehicles and machinery. It is severely affecting fire operations in the district, he added.



from The Tribune https://ift.tt/3nta43A

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