Damu Nagar inferno: State data could help find eligible candidates for rehabilitation

As residents worry about losing proof of residence etc, a Forest Department official says the govt has voter lists, ration cards, etc, which could help them locate those eligible for rehabilitation

While the residents of Damu Nagar are depending on a recent survey done by the Forest Department in the month of November as proof of their residence, after losing everything in the massive fire on Tuesday, a forest official said that it was conducted only to gauge the number of encroachments on the land.

On the third day after the fire, yesterday, two people sit in what remains of their home. Pics/Nimesh Dave
On the third day after the fire, yesterday, two people sit in what remains of their home. Pics/Nimesh Dave

However, another official has said that the residents, who are eligible to be rehabilitated, need not worry about the loss of their documents, as the data is available with the state authorities. Around 2,000 families lost everything in the fire including documents like address and identity proofs, and are living in constant fear of backlash by the Forest Department, which owns the land.

Many people have created makeshift tents to stay in
Many people have created makeshift tents to stay in

Talking to mid-day, Prakash Sable, one of the residents said that in the month of November, a week post Diwali, the forest officials had come for a survey to their area. “During the survey, they checked the residential proofs and other details.

Children try to collect what they can from a sea of donated clothes. Besides clothes, people from nearby housing societies and other parts of the city have been arriving everyday to give the slum dwellers foodChildren try to collect what they can from a sea of donated clothes. Besides clothes, people from nearby housing societies and other parts of the city have been arriving everyday to give the slum dwellers food

They also took pictures of the families along with aadhar cards. Hence even if we have lost everything, that particular database, which is recent and has exact number of eligible and non eligible residents staying in the vicinity can help the forest department in the rehabilitation programme,” said Sable.

Database
However, a forest official said that the survey was done only to ascertain the extent of encroachment on the land, as a demolition drive was to take place within a short period.

“Though we have that particular database, it wasn’t carried out to ascertain the number of people to be rehabilitated, or wont serve as proof for them, with complete documentation,” said R N Jejurkar, Range Forest Officer of SGNP.

But senior forest officials said that the incident, where the residents also lost the receipts given to them by the forest officials in a period of two decades, will not make a difference in the rehabilitation programme, as the data is available with the state authorities.

“The state government has the voter lists as well as residential proof like aadhar card and ration card in their database. It can help the forest department when it conducts the rehabilitation programme for the eligible candidates who have been staying there before 1995. The loss of documents in the fire won’t make any difference,” said a senior official.

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