Dilapidated quarters put railway employees’ lives in jeopardy

  • Vandana Singh, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Sep 28, 2014 12:58 IST

Aarti, a resident of Railway Colony Number 5, lives in perennial fear that her house could collapse any time.

Nearly two weeks ago, few houses, one of them adjoining her house, collapsed following heavy rains. Following the mishap, authorities declared these railway quarters unsafe for occupation, but the inhabitants were never shifted.

The construction of a multistorey flats building was started four years ago, but it was never completed.
Railway Colony Number 5 has around 500 quarters, of which only 100 are occupied, as the remaining are condemned.

The colony, which is home to around 500 residents, was built in the years preceding Independence, and it was further extended after 1947. Since then, in absence of any repairs or restoration, the houses have been in a dilapidated condition, with the bricks falling out and cracks appearing in walls.

Besides, every time it rains, the ceilings start leaking and condensation appears in the walls. With authorities turning a blind eye to their safety, some occupants have even had to repair the walls and roof of the houses at their own expense.

Also, some of the drains in the area have been left uncovered, making them a breeding ground for mosquitoes. A resident, who requested not to be named, said, “After some house collapsed, authorities declared three more houses unsafe. The walls of our house, too, have cracks. Our safety is a matter of grave concern.”

The residents are also a harried lot due to long wild grass grown in front of their houses. The long grass invites insects, and small animals, such as rodents, mongoose and lizards, forcing residents to remain indoors.

Kanta, a resident, said, “I have to remain vigilant every time my six- year- old child goes to play outside, so that he doesn’t step into the grass where insects and animals could be present.”

ML Parashar, vice-president, Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union ( URMU), Ferozepur Division, said, “The maintenance of houses in railway colony always remains a matter of concern. The department should take up the matter on priority, as this involves the safety of residents.”

“Three houses were declared unsafe in the colony. Their occupants will be shifted to other houses as soon as possible. Other houses, too, will be provided maintenance on basis of priority. The matter related to construction of the new building lies in the purview of a divisional-level officer,” said RK Garg, assistant divisional engineer, Ferozepur division.

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