Homeless fire victims in Kashmir demand rehabilitation

Srinagar, Jan.10 : Nearly 32 families living under miserable conditions in schools in Srinagar on Friday demanded rehabilitation from the state government, after fire near a historical shrine rendered them homeless last year.

On December 30 last year, a fire broke out in a house in the Dhobi Ghat locality near the famous Hazratbal shrine on the banks of Dal Lake, and soon the flames engulfed neighbouring houses.

Although there was no loss of life, the inferno damaged all the belongings of the people.

The poor inhabitants, who are now living in schools amid chilling cold that has covered the valley, are trying to survive with the non-availability of basic amenities, including hot water, adequate power supply and other heating equipments.

The residents highlighted that they cannot stay in the school for too long as the winter break would end soon and demanded immediate rehabilitation from government.

"Our problems have aggravated a lot due to the loss. We are living in school right now. You can make out the difference of staying in home and school. Our children are helpless and so are we. The government is not fully helping us," said a homeless victim, Imran Ahmad.

After the incident, the provincial government and social organisations came to the aide of the homeless and provided them emergency relief, but it has not proved to be sufficient to meet the basic needs of the homeless people.

Meanwhile, local administration assured that the homes would be restored soon.

"We are asking that land should be searched for them as close as possible to Hazratbal where the housing board under the Rajiv Gandhi rehabilitation scheme provides free rehabilitation on government expenses," said a state legislator, Mustafa Kamal.

With temperature dipping in negative and snow blanketing the valley, it is very difficult for the victims to spend the cold nights without proper arrangements.

India's weather department says western disturbances approaching the north might result in harsh weather conditions and plummeting temperatures.

In higher altitudes the temperature has even dropped to the sub-zero level.

Located in the tropics, most of India witnesses very hot summers and largely temperate winters.

--ANI (Posted on 10-01-2014)

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