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Wino Inferno Victims Still Awaiting Govt Aid

UKHRUL, Mar 8: Even after two years had lapsed since the devastating inferno caused massive loss to shop owners and individual residents of Wino Bazar no substantive material or financial assistance has been provided by the State Government, as was assured to the victims.

The blaze that broke out on March 9, 2009 had left over 90 families homeless and with the exception of loan provided to a handful of the victims under SEGP program of Manipur State Cooperative Bank, the SPF Government had been indifferent to plight of the victims.

Such callousness is inspite of the fact that incident was declared as ‘Natural Disaster’ by a team of Ministers who made spot assessment of the damage in addition to the matter having been discussed at the floor of the State Assembly on March 17, 2009.

None other than the chief minister went on record after sending the team of ministers on the next day of the inferno that the government would initiate all necessary measures for reconstruction of the building apart from extending requisite relief.

The Chief Minister also assured that at least two fire tenders would be stationed at all the fire stations of hill districts and maintain large ponds near the station for water storage.

“However, till today after two years down the line not a single promise made by O Ibobi Singh in the Assembly has been translated into action, fumed Ricky Shaiza, one of the victims of the fire incident.

In an exclusive chat with “The Sangai Express” Ricky, proprietor of Mischief Arcade, whose garments and selection store was also reduced to cinders, said with the exception of some superficial material assistance and promise for giving loan the government has not done anything worthwhile.

“In my case I did not apply for the loan because the- re are lots of unnecessary procedure involved in getting the loans from MSCB. We the victims require soft loans but not this SEGP style of giving loan which greatly differs from others in many ways,” he added.

On absolute absence of action by the ministerial team that rushed to Ukhrul and took stock of the situation, Ricky stated that the victims are not asking for the moon but only seeking government help towards compensating the victim families as a rightful citizen.

Some of the victims, speaking on condition of anonymity said that they did receive loans under MSCB (SEGP) at the total amount of Rs 85,000 against a payable amount of Rs 1 lakh in two installments. In the first phase Rs 35,000 was received and after a gap of two and half months another sum of Rs 50,000 was provided.

When the victim loan applicants inquired on the unpaid balance money, they were reportedly told by the bank officials that the remaining amount had been deducted for security and insurance.

Stating that the deduction was against their will, they questioned sincerity of the Government in bailing out its citizens from a crisis situation.

There are many victims who have not taken the loan till today, they added.

It is reported that some non-local victims have left Ukhrul as they have no option left to eke out a living here due to acute privation they endure from the impact of the devastating inferno.

Mention may be made that, report furnished by the Relief committee cited that a total number of 55 shops, 53 residential building, five government quarters (teachers), a mini cinema hall, residence cum office of Tangkhul Shanao Long (TSL) and major communication installation like Airtel tower, BSNL cable lines were destroyed.

Moreover, 36 partially burnt shops were pulled down to avert mishaps. The total loss of properties and other assets is estimated at Rs 30 crores, one of the heaviest losses caused by an inferno in the history of Ukhrul. The victims are set to observe the second anniversary tomorrow.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express/Addie Chiphang)

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