Wednesday, January 31, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

With cracks in houses they brave chill in open
From Chander Parkash and Pushpesh Kumar

BATHINDA, Jan 30 — As many as 35 families of Mohalla Norhian and Gali Gangaramwali of ward number 24 of this town have been living under constant danger to their lives since wide cracks appeared in the roofs and walls of their dwellings about 25 days ago.

Even though no earthquake struck these localities residents have been spending sleepless nights under the open sky in the biting cold as they have left the damaged rooms due to the fear that they might collapse any time.

The dwellings have become so dangerous that even the concrete floor of some of them have caved in. So far, these families, most of which belong to poor sections of society, have not moved to other accommodations and have started using only safe parts of their dwellings to live in.

Says the father of Prem Chand, an old man, “We are so poor that everyday food is being given to us by a religious place. Though the cracks which have appeared in the house are dangerous, we cannot move out to another accommodation due to our bad financial position.”

Sohan Singh, another resident, says, “First of all, I thought cracks had appeared in the house due to some mischief done by the neighbours. I came to know that more houses of the locality had also developed cracks when the street drains also started tearing apart.”

The residents pointed out that cracks had appeared in their houses, some of which were constructed a few years ago, due to seepage of water into the foundations of their dwellings from the underground water pipes. They alleged the underground water pipes were damaged when the municipal council authorities made the street of concrete about six months ago.

They alleged they even pointed out to the authorities concerned the damage caused to the underground water pipe when the street was made but no care was taken.

They said when a written complaint was made to the local municipal council authorities on January 22 only minor repair work was carried out.

The residents said they had constructed their dwellings in the narrow streets of the town by saving money from their meagre earnings for decades and now no government agency was coming forward to help them. They said most of the residents were roadside vendors while some of them sold vegetables.

They have demanded that the municipal council authorities should give them suitable compensation for the loss caused to their dwellings due to the negligent attitude of the authorities concerned. They added that the municipal council authorities had failed to take any step to make their dwellings safe.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhuller, president of the Bathinda Municipal Council, when contacted said the authorities had written to the district administration for arranging suitable compensation for these residents.

Earlier, more than a dozen families of Poojanwala Mohalla of the town had also been living under constant danger to their lives as cracks had appeared in their dwellings a few months ago.

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