Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, May 3:
A day after a devastating fire wreaked havoc in the Mangala slum at Unit IV here rendering nearly 1, 000 people homeless, residents of the ill-fated slum are seething with anger at the gross apathy of the municipal administration and the Odisha government.
“No relief materials have been provided to us by the city administration until now. Twenty four hours after the fire, the people whose houses were gutted are still looking for a proper shelter to get protection from the scorching summer sun,” complains an angry Kanhu Behera who lost all his belongings in the mishap.
“Having arrived at the place two full hours after the mishap, BMC Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena had said that Red Cross personnel will be pressed into service to assess the damage to property and the requirement of relief materials after which financial assistance will be provided as per the guidelines. But the Mayor and the officials who visited yesterday have not shown their face again since then,” alleged Kailash Chandra Rath, another resident of the slum.
“It was our mistake that we voted for these persons who never think of us. At the time of election, they promise the moon. But once the elections are over, they think only for themselves,” Behera said with a sense of resignation.
“From Friday evening we have not seen the faces of the government officials who assured us of relief and food. Local Jay Jawan Masccha Byabasayi Sangha and some local organisation members are providing food (rice, dal), water, biscuit and cloths to the victims,” informed Sarojini Behera.
She also complained about th lack of water supply. “Are three water tankers enough for more than a 1, 000 people?” she asked angrily.
She further alleged that they had to suffer mosquito bites all night yesterday as they had no option but to stay in the Government Upper Primary school located close to the slum.
“Forget about TV, fridge, clothes and gold ornaments. Who will pay the Rs 30,000 that we had saved for our two 8-year and 12-year daughters to put them in a hostel for their education?” asked Kamini Behera, whose house was completely gutted in the fire.
Like Kamini, there are hundreds of women who have weaved myriad dreams for their children. But their dreams are now in tatters. Now they can only count the days to get relief and financial assistance from the government.
On being contacted, BMC Mayor Jena refuted the allegation made by the victims. “I have sent a Red Cross team to provide relief materials to the people,” he told OST.