Dwellers of gutted slum remind Mamata of her 2010 promise


Left out in the cold by the devastating that fire on Saturday, residents of Basanti Colony, a slum in Ultadanga, is angry with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. According to them, when a similar fire had gutted the slum in 2010, Mamata as Railway Minister had promised to build houses for them. Two years have passed but the prmoised houses are yet to come.

However, their latest concern is food and immediate shelter. Around 50 slum dwellers said they have not yet received any food or aide from the government.

Arup Gayen, who family is one of the 100 families who lost their "homes" in the Saturday's fire, said the government "failed to set up colonies for the homeless slum dwellers and till now many people have not received food and shelter".

Local CPM councillor Rupa Bagchi visited the spot on Sunday and assured slum dwellers that will be provided a place to stay near the Basanti colony on a temporary basis.

Locals alleged that fire tenders reached nearly 45 minutes after the fire broke out which led to the slum being completely gutted. Director-General of Fire Services Gopal Bhattacharya said said 22 fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames. By the time it was brought under control, over 100 shanties were destroyed. He also said that a cooking gas cylinder exploded resulting in the fire. "The use of LPG cylinder by the slum dwellers without observing basic precautions are causing repeated incidents of fires in the area," he said.

Last week, over 100 shanties were gutted in Tangra area in east Kolkata. In 2010, one person died and over 400 shanties were gutted in a massive fire at Basanti colony. This time, they were lucky that there was no casualty.

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