While the state chose to look the other way when a fire gutted 800 shanties at Ambedkar Nagar slums in Cuffe Parade, a few South Mumbai residents have risen to the occasion and are lending a helping hand to rebuild the shelters of the affected people.
Three weeks have passed since the fateful day of November 21 when the elevated shanties built on wooden stilts were gutted after an alleged incident of gas cylinder blast. Very few who have been affected can now afford to build their houses again.
Churchgate resident David D’Souza has been helping 40-year-old Mukesh Balmiki to rebuild his house. D’Souza, a photographer, has also put up an appeal on Facebook estimating the cost of rebuilding a stilt house measuring 160 sq ft. “The houses which were destroyed are in a mangrove swamp. Mukesh is building a tin house on wooden stilts with the help of others,” said D’Souza.
On Friday, Mukesh visited the Bhendi Bazar area at Masjid Bunder and bought three plywood planks. However, D’Souza says: “Rebuilding their houses will not be an easy task since these people, who are mostly labourers, do not have that kind of money.”
Many residents living in high-rises feel connected to the slum dwellers as quite a number of them work as helps in the area. Two Cuffe Parade residents have raised Rs5 lakh in just 22 days to help the affected people. On Sunday, they will distribute kitchen utensils as well as ration for five days to 630 families. “My housemaid Gangu resides in these slums. On the day of the fire, we realised that it was a huge humanitarian crisis. We have been appealing to all to raise funds to help these families,” said one of the ladies requesting anonymity.
Rs1 lakh is needed to rebuild a house in the slum
The cost of houses for 630 families will be over Rs6 crore
Weekly ration and other expenses for a single household is Rs2,386
For 630 families, the total amount will be Rs15,03,180
Global Banjara Foundation and some south Mumbai residents have raised Rs5 lakh
To reach out to affected families, contact Global Banjara Foundation on 09224015332