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'We have lost our homes and life savings'

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
By Prachi Sonawane. Photographs by Trupti Arekar

Residents of Nargis Dutt Nagar in Bandra claim that they have not only lost a home, but also life savings in the massive blaze

In what could be termed as a 'black day' for everal families of the Nargis Dutt Nagar at Bandra's reclamation area, around 80 shanties were completely gutted in a major fire in the morning hours, leaving around hundreds of people homeless.

According to the Fire Brigade officials, the blaze was reported to be Level 4 (major). However, no casualities were reported in the fire, though four people, including two children, were affected due to the blaze.

The injured were rushed to Bandra's Bhabha Hospital. The two children have been identified as Humera Sallauddin Rahim (5), Saifuddin Sallauddin Rahim (2), apart from two women who also suffered a mild shock watching their homes being gutted. The women have been identified as Sana Mubarak Shaikh (36) and Asha Gupta, who were treated and discharged. According to the Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Randhale, over half-a-dozen cooking gas cylinders in the affected residential slums exploded as the fire kept spreading. The incident was first reported at 11.50 am in the Nargis Dutt Nagar slum, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Disaster Management Cell, in a statement, said, “A joint team of the Fire Brigade, Ward Staffers and Mumbai Police personnel have been mobilised to douse the flames.”

The residents who lost their homes in this fire were seen wailing emotionally on how they are now rendered shelterless. They demanded justice from the government officials.

“As it was a Tuesday morning, many of our slum residents had gone for their daily work, as their lives depend upon the daily wages. The fire might have started because of a short-circuit which then seems to have affected the cooking gas cylinders that resulted in this massive blaze,” said a resident from the slum. Another resident said, “Due to the fire, we have lost not only our homes that sheltered us for so many years, but also all our life savings. We are now clueless about what our future would be.” The fire brigade declared this fire as Level IV (major) and 12 fire engines, 10 water tankers were undertaking operations. Besides, around 50 labourers, four JCBs, three tankers were mobilised by the local BMC ward office. The high-wind speeds also made it a challenging operation for the brigade. MLA Ashish Shelar from Bandra, who visited the spot said, “Most of the slums are illegally constructed as a ground-plus-one storey structures and the BMC has failed to take action against these illegal slums and over time this has only kept growing.” Several such fires have occurred in the the locality in the past. The Fire Brigade  had difficulty in accessing the slums because of the narrow lanes. 

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