At least 90 dwellings in a slum in Shehdara village in Sector 137 of Noida were burnt down in a massive fire that broke out on Saturday night. No casualties have been reported in the incident.
The fire broke out around 12:30am and spread within 10 minutes, giving the slum residents no time to collect their belongings.
“As soon as the fire broke out, there were loud screams everywhere. We ran out with our children and there was no time to go back and retrieve anything,” said Neemchand, a middle-aged man whose autorickshaw was charred in the fire.
According to one of the residents, several cylinders blew up one after another as the fire engulfed the entire area. “As soon as the fire broke out, people informed the police control room and fire station, but help could only reach only around 2:30am. By that time, everything was charred,” said Menaz, a victim.
It is estimated that more than 100 families have been affected due to the fire. The unauthorised slum cluster had sprung up in the last two years on a piece of land belonging to the Greater Noida authority.
The slum dwellers were mostly daily wage workers and domestic helps working in nearby high-rise apartments.
Danish Azim, a local resident, who arrived in the morning to help the affected families, said, “Until government aid comes, residents of nearby colonies are extending every possible help to the fire victims.”
Non-governmental organisations Chetna and Raasta are working to provide relief to the affected families by providing tents and beddings for the victims.
District administration assures help
After taking stock of the situation, district magistrate NP Singh, announced that help would be provided to the affected families through the state government’s funds. “Eighty-nine families living in Shehdara village in Sector 137 will be provided government aid for rehabilitation,” he said in a statement.
Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Rajesh Kumar Singh, who visited the spot on Sunday afternoon, said, “We are collecting information about the families that lived here and the loss they have suffered.”
Sources said the slum dwellings had come up on a piece of land belonging to the Greater Noida authority. An influential person in the area had illegally occupied the plot, constructed dwellings and rented out them to the underprivileged, sources added.
“We lived in the slums so that we could save some money on accommodation, but now everything is gone,” said Neemchand.