Rendered homeless in Kotkhai fire, 25 families demand monetary aid | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Rendered homeless in Kotkhai fire, 25 families demand monetary aid

punjab Updated: Feb 06, 2014 17:55 IST
HT Correspondent

The 25 families rendered homeless by a devastating fire in Barion village in Kotkhai on January 30, are now in dire straits in the absence of adequate financial assistance.

The fire had gutted eight houses and caused losses estimated at Rs 6 crore. The houses were built nearly 400 years ago.

The Shimla District Public Grievances Redressal Committee has now urged chief minister Virbhadra Singh to immediately intervene so relief and required assistance is provided to the victims.

Committee member RL Justa said the houses could have been saved had there been a fire station at Kotkhai, as fire tenders coming from Theog and Shimla took a long time to reach the spot. By that time, the fire that had started from a corner of a house had engulfed the wooden structure and later spread to adjoining houses.

He added that the 25 families had lost all their belongings in the fire and were now taking shelter in the other villagers' houses. However, this was a temporary solution.

"Each family has been provided `20,000 as immediate relief so far, which is not even adequate for clearing the debris to start construction afresh. They should be given timber distribution (TD) permission immediately, and the government should also provide corrugated sheets and other required material to build temporary shelters to them," said Justa.

He urged the CM to direct the irrigation and public health authorities to repair and restore the water supply, which had been damaged by the fire, and to depute a senior district officer to oversee the relief and rehabilitation of the affected families.

He appealed to other social organisations to come forward to help the victims and ensure their early and proper rehabilitation.

Justa claimed that the houses gutted were "rare specimens of hill architecture built by Sabla Wazir, using deodar wood and fine-chiselled stones that would now be impossible to reconstruct, as workers with required skills were not available anymore".