It was just another day at office and I was on the worst part of my day ‘Traveling in my office bus back home’. Its a real torture traveling in Indian roads in the evenings, where the traffic is at peak and the climate being no less mean ..phew!! hot n sultry.
This day, it was a particularly long travel. The travel seemed to be smooth until Ottery. There was an intermittent rain here n there. Our bus has to take a big diversion these days, thanks to the never-ending Perambur fly-over construction. We have to go through the Vyasarpadi Jeeva junction and get back into Perambur. The under-bridge (if u can call it so, the one that goes below a railway track) usually messes up traffic. It’s always a lot crowded there. But today the buses were really inching their way towards the Vyasarpadi area. There were huge crowds everywhere, lot of traffic diversions and people in khaki were in action too. We had no clue as whats happening, and we thought it was just another traffic jam of some kind. It took around 20-30 mins to cover a half a km stretch. Only when the bus neared the slum area we could sense the smell of smoke. A little further down the road, I was really shocked to see what I was really seeing. What had been a huge slum area with so many huts and small houses, was now literally a piece of land covered in black ash and thick smoke. It was a horrible sight for anyone to see their belongings going up in smoke. It must have been very difficult to those people. Almost all of them have been rendered homeless. To make it worse, it started raining again and people had nowhere to go. There were a lot of babies crying their hearts out, kids clinging onto their moms and women desperately searching for their husbands and most of the people around with the local police trying to help each other.
I was just sitting in the bus not knowing what to do, and with an even worse feeling that afterall I can’t do anything. At times I feel that God might have been a little rude. If everything happens for good, what good can this incident lead to? Only time can answer. I consoled myself saying that everything happens for a reason. And back home, I googled about the incident next day and found that nearly 40 huts had been gutted and around Rs 2 lakhs worth property has been destroyed. But, luckily there has been no casualities.
Seems like the fire broke out around 1.30 pm in Kalyanapuram near Vyasarpadi police station and soon engulfed about 40 hutments in the area. Seven fire engines from nearby stations were deployed immediately and the damage has been reduced to the least. But the people who saw it had a different story to tell. They complained that the fire engines took 45 minutes to arrive. By that time, everything was reduced to ashes. And as always, the police denied the charges. God only knows what happened.
As the old cliché goes, prevention is better than cure. The Government shoud start taking serious steps to avoid similar incidents. Am not sure whether the
entire slum was a legal one, with proper precautions taken. I have heard of people renting the concrete houses provided for them by the Government and preferring to stay back in the slums. A task force has to be created to make sure that all people stay in their rightful homes.
There was a similar incident in Vysarpadi around 6 years back. People never learn from their mistakes 😦
This time it was just a damage to properties which can be recovered, but what if its gonna be loss of lives next time! Food for some thought!