HYDERABAD: A day after a massive fire took seven lives and left over a hundred families homeless at Gundla Pochampally in Medchal mandal in Rangareddy district, survivors of the tragedy are groping for subsistence.
The 35-year-old Chinna Ramu, who was partially burnt but managed to save his life, does not know it was his fortune or misfortune.
“I was not well yesterday and was bed-ridden, which is why I was present at my hut during the incident,” he said.
Ramu had his face and parts of body burnt, and was waiting for rehabilitation.
According to authorities, families of the deceased have gone ahead with the last rites.
The hundred odd families spent their night at the very place they work— Trident Apartments which is under construction.
They ate rice and dal, and used the clothes, blankets supplied by the revenue department, along with help from organisations like the Indian Red Cross Society, Aswani Oils and Gayatri Parivar, and a few individuals from nearby villages who supplied blankets, mattresses, clothes and sheets.
Shanta and Meetaram from Maharashtra, who used to work at the site, are worried about their future.
“We used to earn `300 and `250 a day working on the site.
Now it is not sure if we will be allowed to continue working,” said Meetaram who has lost the earning of his lifetime.
“We are satisfied with the relief but it does not bring back our old lives,” remarked Shanta.
Anita, who also hails from the same village in Maharashtra, was happy that she and her two-year-old daughter were given clothes and blankets as immediate relief.
“They gave polio drops to my daughter.
This might not have happened in case the mishap had not occurred,” she said.
“There are about 45 children below 5 years of age, and we have given the polio drops along with other medical requirements,”said Dr Anand, medical officer at the Medchal mandal primary health centre.
Pentamma, who hails from Medak and was equally distressed, seemed happy that they were all given shelter and food immediately.
She seemed to be worried about their future, just like everyone else.
“Authorities gave us money today, but we do not know what to do with the money right now,” she said.
It is also understood that some of the families have left the place on the day of the mishap.
Law minister Erasu Pratap Reddy and Medchal MLA K Laxma Reddy visited the victims of the mishap early on Sunday morning along with joint collector M Jagannadhan and tahasildar Abdul Hameed.
The minister distributed an immediate relief of `8,000 in cash, 20 kg of rice to each family and `15,000 in cash and 20 kg of rice to each of the bereaved families.
The minister, who assured `2 lakh as government aid, promised an additional `3 lakh as compensation from the builder.
He said there would be a special drive against builders and contractors in the state to ensure that migrant labourers were duly registered with the department.
“It is the responsibility of the contractor to register workers with the department for an identity card with which there can be some record of the labourers.
Using the ID, workers can claim damages in case of mishap,” he said.
“Five litres of kerosene per family could not be distributed as promised as there was no place to store the kerosene oil but we have distributed a slip with which they can claim it later,” Hameed said.
The MLA said contractors were exploiting labourers.
“A contractor has to provide congenial living space for their labourers with adequate safety measures.
Plastic should not be used in erecting sheds for labourers’ quarters,” he said.
Sabotage Not Ruled Out
HYDERABAD: A short-circuit or sparks from an earthen hearth might have caused the inferno that claimed the lives of seven persons at Gundla Pochampally village on the outskirts of the city, according to investigators.
A team of experts from AP Forensic Science Laboratory visited the spot on Saturday evening to ascertain the cause and origin of fire.
They also looked into the possibility of sabotage as the reason.
Investigators assume that sparks emanating from an earthen hearth might have flown to huts which were made of combustible material like plastic, wood and straw.
Another factor could be short-circuit of dangling electric wires as the hutdwellers tapped nearby electric poles for power.
To worsen the problem, the huts stood close to one another, making it easy for the fire to spread rapidly.
And, there was gentle breeze stoking the fire, the investigator said.
“After the fire broke out the cylinders (5-kilo capacity) exploded due to heat,'' another officer said.
Police are trying to question the workers who were present at the settlement.
On the action to be taken against the construction company, police said they were verifying the terms and conditions laid down by the contractor before hiring the workers.