A Rajasthan hamlet destroyed by fire rises from the ashes

  • Aparnesh Goswami, Hindustan Times, Bhaloori (Bikaner)
  • Updated: May 02, 2016 22:33 IST
Villagers of Bhaloori in Binaker construct houses after a fire gutted their homes last month (HT Photo)

A nondescript hamlet, 56km from the international border in western Rajasthan, rises from the ashes after being destroyed by a fire, setting an example with its grit and will to survive.

On April 23, a fire in Bhaloori gutted their homes and destroyed their crops. Even documents that proved the identity of its residents, a majority of who belong to Hindu families displaced from Amarkot in Pakistan in 1971, were lost in the inferno.

A week later, and the village is rising like a phoenix. Villagers have dusted themselves off and are hard at work to rebuild their lives.

“Our target is to build 40 houses in 10 days,” said former Kolayat legislator and BJP leader Devi Singh Bhati. The village is 123km from the district headquarters in Kolayat tehsil.

The district administration promised each of the ravaged families Rs 1 lakh as interim relief, which was delayed due to legal procedures and red tape.

“The limit of the relief is Rs 3,500 and for that I was told to lodge an FIR and then get a report from the patwari (a revenue official) to verify the damage. I spent Rs 400 and three days doing this and yet didn’t get the full relief amount,” said Sita Kanwar, a 76-year-old widow.

So the villagers, supported by the former Kolayat legislator, raised Rs 50 lakh on their own and collected enough construction material to rebuild their homes.

“It is a matter of dignity for the community — we cannot leave them to government largess,” said Bhati.

Each house will have a 9-by-15-foot room, a 9-by-9-foot kitchen and a structure for rainwater harvesting. Toilets will be built under the government scheme, Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. Each house will cost Rs 2.25 lakh.

“The walls are ready, roofs will be cast on Tuesday,” said sarpanch Ved Prakash.

An NGO, Mast Mandal, from Gangashahar has promised to provide each family a sewing machine. The families devastated by the fire traditionally depended on embroidery for a living — it’s a skill passed down from one generation to the other. In addition, philanthropists will provide the families either a cow or five goats for an additional source of income.

The sarpanch expressed confidence that the village would ready by May 5.

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