Shubhangi, wife of fireman Nitin Ivalekar who perished while trying to douse flames at Lotus Business Park, is struggling to cope with the loss and the uncertain future that lies ahead
Shubhangi Ivalekar has tears in her eyes and a dazed look on her face that betrays several haunting questions on her mind how will she repay the home loan, how will she raise her two daughters? Shubangi is the wife of Nitin Ivalekar, the fireman who passed away after fighting bravely to put out the fire that raged at Lotus Business Park in Andheri (West) on July 18.
Shubhangi Ivalekar says she doesn’t know how much of the home loan is left unpaid since her husband handled all the finances. (Left) Fireman Nitin Ivalekar’s body is carried out to the crematorium for the last rites. Pics/Shadab Khan
Nitin was the sole breadwinner of the family and was the only fireman dead in the fire that landed 20 other officials in hospital. “Right now, I am only worried about how I will raise my daughters,” she says. Even if the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) does give her a job as compensation, her worries will not end.
Fireman Nitin Ivalekar’s body is carried out to the crematorium for the last rites
The Ivalekars are a nuclear family and if she goes out to work, there would be nobody to look after her two young daughters the elder being six years old, and the younger barely two.
She used to work at Cooper Hospital as a nurse, but quit her job to take care of the children. A more telling problem the 30-year-old has on her mind is the home loan for the Virar apartment she is currently staying in she doesn’t even know how much she owes the bank, as her husband would take care of her finances with the Rs 23,000 he earned a month. The family had moved into their new home, which is now resoundingly empty without Nitin, only a fortnight ago.
Relatives and friends are pitching in to help the family in any way they can. “We are trying to do whatever we can, but we are all middle-class families. We can only do so much. Today, we are there for them. Tomorrow, we may not be there. Who will help them?” asked Ramesh Saigonkar, Shubhangi’s uncle, who stays in Virar.
Nitin’s mother, Draupadi, stays with his sister in Mankhurd, and is in Virar for the last rites. “My son was the backbone of the family and the only earning member. Now that he is gone, we are all completely shattered.
We have no idea how we are going to manage without him,” said Draupadi, who asked the government to ensure that proper planning is done and a policy is in place to help employees out when such tragedies occur.
Shubhangi’s brother Sachin Ambetkar added, “We will have to think about the home loan and the girls’ education and wedding. I have no idea how we will go about it. We are struggling to cope with his demise.”
The family members hoped people would come forward to lend a helping hand, but stressed on the need for a permanent solution from the authorities so employees can plan for the future after such irreparable losses.
Injured firefighters are stable
Twenty firemen who were injured in the Lotus Business Park fire were admitted to Cooper Hospital. 16 of them were discharged last morning after doctors deemed they had suffered 5% burns.
“They suffered from minor injuries and a few complained of suffocation, but their condition stabilised and they were given a discharge,” said Dr S S Gawade, medical superintendent of the hospital. Four other firemen, who had sustained 8-10% burns had been shifted to the National Burns Centre (NBC) in Airoli for further treatment on Friday evening.
Doctors at the hospital said that while all of them had suffered second-degree burns on their hands, their condition is stable as of now. They can expect to be discharged by next week, but it will be at least a month before they can resume working, said a doctor.
Dr Sunil Keswani, director of NBC, said, “None of them have suffered from extensive burns and the scars should mature in the next 15 days or so. As they were immediately treated for their burn injuries within four to five hours of the incident, the risk of infection was reduced considerably. Of the four, two have deep burns injuries.
One had sustained minor burn injuries on his face, but due to good blood supply there, the scars won’t be permanent.”
- Inputs from Anuradha Varanasi