Kathputli colony artisans still look up for help

Certificates, money now ash, people shiver under open sky

The fire at the Gujarati muhalla in Kathputli Colony near Shadipur Depot in west Delhi could have been prevented if there were taps to supply water in the area say local residents.

Artisans from across states residing in this colony have been demanding water taps since 20 years but the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) did not pay heed to their woes which they say led to loss of belongings in the fire incident last week.

The slum dwellers get water for daily use from nearby colonies and are left with either one bucket or no water at the end of the day.

 “There was a fire 20 years ago which destroyed everything in this part of the colony. Same thing has happened today. The government does not want to help us as we live in juggi jhopris,” said Meenu, whose house and Rs 25,000 were burnt.

The blaze destroyed 95 shanties four days ago, leaving close to 500 people homeless. There is no respite for them  still. They have been sleeping in the open with no blankets and clothes .

“Everything has turned into ashes. Where should I go? The government can at least give us a place to stay till we are resettled,” said Pappu, who has a family of eight and nowhere to go. Many said they had bought ration for the entire month and they will not be able to avail the benefit any longer as their ration cards were destroyed in this fire.

Childern’s plight
Several children, who had obtained pass certificates, fear they will not be able to obtain their certificates again.

“I used to work as a maid in three houses and study during evenings. I got my certificates with a lot of difficulty but I do not think the board will believe me that I had the certificates as I stay in a slum,” said 17-year-old Puja Mathur, who was trying to locate her documents inside half-burnt books.

Similarly, Mehraz Ali, who is pursuing his graduation in MA from Delhi University, has lost hope of going back to college as his fee money was burnt in the fire.

Vidya Devi, BJP Councillor of Shadipur area, has been trying to help these slum dwellers by providing food and blankets.

“We are not getting any help from the government. We are also giving medicines to people who were injured during this incident,” she said.

Residents said DDA officials had taken pictures of the area on the day of the fire and returned only on Monday to take a video of the place.

Relief
“We are trying our best to do whatever we can. We have asked for a list of people who are affected. We will ask the government to provide relief to these artisans,” said a DDA official at the site.

However, artisans demanded that Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit should visit the place to see the condition they are living in.

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