The Korail slum dwellers, who lost their hard-earned properties in a devastating fire on Thursday night, are now in a hurry to reconstruct their shanties, fearing that the authorities concerned might drive them away from the area.
Visiting the spot, the Dhaka Tribune correspondents yesterday found that different NGOs including Brac, Shokhi and Bijoy Bangla Development Foundation were providing food, drinking water, medication and clothes to the affected slum people.
Aysha Sultana, a healthcare assistant of Shokhi, said: “We have been providing medication since Thursday. Over 200 injured people have so far taken first aid from us.”
Working under the supervision of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), organisations like UNDP, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, and Dushtha Shasthya Kendra are also providing relief goods to the people.
DNCC Ward 19 Councilor Mohammad Mofizur Rahman visited the spot again and reassured them of providing necessary assistances.
“The city corporation provided food to some 8,000 people,” Mofizur said.
According to fire services sources, some 500 shanties were burnt in the fire that apparently originated from a food shop at the slum that sits on a 19-hectare government land beside posh Banani and Gulshan areas. The affected people, however, claimed that the number of fire-damaged houses was close to 3,000.
As fire is recurrently breaking out at the same place, the slum dwellers alleged that it was a premeditated arson attack to evict them from the land as the government was mulling to set up a hi-tech park there.
Abdul Khalek, an inhabitant of the slum, alleged: “Every time fire breaks out at the dead of night that signifies that vested quarters are deliberately setting fire to our houses to benefit from the government.
“We have nowhere to go. So we have started rebuilding our houses; or else they will drive us away from the land.”
However, the DNCC and Fire Service and Civil Defence refuted the allegations and said that they were working to determine the amount of damage caused by the fire.