Vijayawada: Major fire kills one, 110 huts destroyed

At around 12.30 pm, fire broke out in a house and within a few minutes it spread to all the other huts, which were homes of daily wagers.

Vijayawada: One woman was burnt alive and two others sustained injures in a major fire mishap that gutted over 110 huts at the slum adjacent to Rajiv Gandhi Park and flower market in city on Wednesday.

At around 12.30 pm, fire broke out in a house and within a few minutes it spread to all the other huts, which were homes of daily wagers.

Dwellers of the slum ran out but K. Ramadevi, 60, who was unable to escape the fire, was brunt alive. Two others, including an eight-year-old girl sustained injuries.

More than 10 fire tenders from across the district were put into force to bring down the fire till evening.

The exact source of the fire is yet to be known. Fire and police officials suspect that fire broke out due to gas leakage or while cooking in a house.

However, locals say that a live cigarette thrown on the houses by a passenger from the train passing by the slum might have raged fire.

District collector Mr Babu A, VMC commissioner G. Veerapandian, DCP (L&O) Mr L.K.V. Ranga Rao and DCP (admin) Mr G.V.G. Ashok Kumar rushed to the spot.

“As an immediate relief, the dwellers were shifted to nearby schools. Each family would be given Rs 3,000 and 25 kilograms of rice,” collector Mr Babu said.

Officials fail to shift families from encroached lands
It is not the first time that the slum, a home for close to a 1,000 people, got destroyed by fire. In the past two decades more than five such incidents took place destroying the slum.

Despite repeated incidents and the fact that it was established in a land belonging to the railways, close to a railway track, officials of the concerned department failed to shift the families to the housing colonies meant for slum dwellers in the city.

The slum is close to the railway track passing beside the Pundit Nehru Bus Station and Rajiv Gandhi flower market. It does not even have a name.

Ironically, it is also very close to the office of Vijayawada Municipal Corporation.

Victims lost all their houses and their belongings, including cash in the mishap. Most of them earn money through grading carrots and potatoes on daily basis.

Minister P. Narayana, who visited the spot, assured that they would be given houses in the housing colony of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation. VMC commissioner G. Veerapandian too assured the same.

However, the victims said that officials and politicians made similar promises every time their houses got destroyed but nothing has materialised so far.

They demanded that the government respond genuinely this time and ensure they get houses.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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