Jammu: Hundreds of people here in Nehru market of Jammu risk their lives every day living in ramshackle government flats which outlived their utility years back with little to no hope of a safe rehabilitation from the authorities.
The buildings were declared “unsafe for habitation” by the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) in 2012, yet they house several families and businesses.
Nehru Market happens to be Jammu and Kashmir’s biggest warehouse belt having firms serving the region since the 1950s, when the buildings were first erected.
The three buildings located in the market have 72 quarters and over 50 shops which were constructed in the early 1950s in the heart of the city famed for its temples.
But over the decades, they have been reduced to being rundown structures with their residents eking out with a precarious existence with a very literal danger hanging above their heads.
Besides their old age, these buildings are also alleged by the residents to be the victims of neglect and poor maintenance by the estates department and JDA.
Their occupants have been demanding that they be shifted to a safer place, and worry it will take nothing less than a catastrophe before the authorities wake up.
“I feel the government is waiting for a tragedy to happen before they wake up. For 32 years, no repair and renovation was carried out by the JDA and estates department,” Bharat Bushan, a migrant, who lives in quarter number 7, with his three-member family on a relief amount of Rs 13,000, told PTI.
“Government should immediately wake up to save the people here,” he said.
Meenakshi, his wife, says that they moved to the flat 32 years ago, when her father-in-law, who worked as a government employee with the civil secretariat, and was a Kashmiri migrant, got it in allotment.
“There is no care of us. Despite repeated requests, neither they renovated the buildings, nor provided us alternative accommodation,” said Meenakshi, adding that how will the family afford rent elsewhere, when it survives on a pittance.
‘They have left us to die here’
“They have left us to die here. We raised issues with all but nobody is listening to us or coming forward to help us. We urge Lieutenant Governor to help us by relocating us to a safer place,” said 70-year-old Kishni Wantoo, wife of former civil secretariat officer Late T N Wantoo. J
Traders Association Warehouse president Deepak Gupta called for immediate shifting of families and asked the authorities to ensure some mechanism so that livelihood of traders do not suffer during the rehabilitation.
“Government cannot escape from its responsibilities by putting up warning sign boards. They have ensured security of life of flat dwellers and ensure that there is loss to livelihood of the traders and shopkeepers,” he added.
Gupta urged the government to relocate residents to safe accommodations and build temporary shops for the traders to carry out their regular work.