Looking Through

•November 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By Ashim Sunam



Frame Your World

•November 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By Samir Alam

Lalita Park Tragedy: Aftermath

•November 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By Samir Alam

Anuj Verma can’t sleep at night.

He worries that another building in his neighborhood will collapse.


He’s lived in the Lalita Park area near Laxmi Nagar all his life and the night of 15th November he says will be scarred in his mind forever. That was the night that a five story building collapsed, killing 73 people and displacing over 200 people in just three minutes.

“It felt like three hours,” says Anuj, “First I felt the trembling andwhen I stepped outside to see what was happening I noticed a cloud of dust in the streetand heard the screams of people.”

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy it was a race against the clock for the survival of those who were buried. In the next three days a few more people were recovered alive, the rest were just bodies. The injured survivors were taken to government hospitals all across the city while those who were fortunate enough not to be in the building or not gravely injured found refuge in the local community center.

But having lost their home and belongings, they are left searching for answers; answers that the government is failing to answer. The survivors are complaining of the increased inconvenience due to the actions of the municipal authorities. The very actions that are suppose to save them.

“The reason this building fell was because it was not built to sustain five floors,” says Narendra Sharma, a retired engineer living in Lalita Park for over 20 years, “The basement was flooded and it further weakened the foundation. It was bound to fall.”

In response to this finding the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has issued eviction notices to 38 buildings that they fear might also suffer from the same problem. The eviction has been issued on the basis of a preliminary inspection by the executive engineers of the MCD.

This decision is forcing thousands of residents out on to the streets with barely any notice. Sharma says that the preliminary decision is based just on which buildings have basements. Since it was due to a flooded basement that the overloaded structure collapsed the MCD officials are launching a blanket order for the evacuation of all buildings with basements. However, many localities believe that this is simply a political over reaction. So it seems that the conflicts between the Congress center and the BJP municipal corporation are leaving hundreds homeless in the capital.

In order to validate their findings the MCD is calling in an expert team from IIT-Roorkee to audit the buildings for structural integrity but till the team arrives thousands of people will become homeless. “This is madness”, says Rohan Kapur, another resident, “the government has made such a huge decision without making any arrangements for the people.” As Kapur tells it, most of the nearby residents in the condemned buildings are laborers whose income doesn’t leave much for a rainy day. And as the dictates of the MCD pours onto the lives of the Lalita VIhar residents even the upper crust of the neighborhood hasn’t been spared.

Afzal Khan, has the misfortune of having built his three story residence adjacent to the collapsed structure. His was one of the few buildings first to be given notice. Having lawfully evacuated the building his neighbor Ritvik Bhansal who still hasn’t shifted says that Khan had gotten his building checked by engineers during construction to make sure the structure was sound.

His basement isn’t even flooded.

Most of the residents claim they expected far more from the government than being victims to the fall out from the petty squabbles between political parties. Since the tragedy a small informal committee of local residents had made it a point to gather up whatever belongings they could of the victims. As the first floor was being used as a hand-loom and stitching workshop, equipment worth lakhs was salvaged by them.

Their hope was that at least the means of livelihood wouldn’t be lost for the survivors. This material was kept in the adjacent park however it disappeared at night when the committee went back to their homes. This is not the only mysterious disappearance, large amounts of salvaged raw material from the workshop as well as construction material that was saved disappeared as soon as it was recovered.

“We are helpless,” says Sushant Singh, a shopkeeper and member of the ‘committee’, “The police doesn’t let us keep night watch and in the meanwhile all the belongings of these unfortunate poor people is stolen.” He suspects a few in the police who are behind this but has no proof. His more immediate concern is finding a way back to normality. His cousin was one of the victims of the tragedy. Sushant had called him from Bihar to get a job during the Commonwealth Games.

“Commonwealth games gave us a crisis management system,” he says, “where was that system when we needed it?”

Its been over three days since the tragedy. He hasn’t received any answers.


•November 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By Ashim Sunam

“I pass by Jama masjid everyday, but today I was amazed to see that there are more goats than people crowding the streets”, says Sanjay Singh. He did not know that the festival of Id-Ul-Azha attracts butchers from all around the country, and especially those form North India.  These goats have been herded to the park next to Meena bazaar to be sold for the annual sacrifice. Jama Majid. They travel along with their herd of goats to Jama Masjid in order to sell them. Though it does not yield huge profits, they continue with it owing to their rich traditional roots.

Fearless Firefighters

•November 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By Ashim Sunam

“Tring Tring” the phone rings at Dwarka Sector 11 fire station. It is Diwali night. The firefighters are alerted from their headquarters at Connaught place about the fire that broke out in Dwarka Sector 4. The firemen with their food half unfinished rush towards the spot in a Water Bouger (fire truck which carries water firemen and all the equipments). The firefighters return after a hard fought battle with fire. It’s their normal day routine.

Udai Vir Singh, the fire station officer at Dwarka sec 11 says, “When a fire breaks out, even the insects can’t bear it and they come out, but our brave firefighters fight against all odds to douse the fire”.

Udai vir Singh, the station officer in his office.

They face many other problems and threats too. The rooms are full of smoke which makes breathing difficult for them. “Though they have a breathing apparatus with them, they are not allowed to stay in a smoke filled room for more than 10minutes” says the station officer, Udai Singh.

Sanjay Paul (name changed) has been working as firemen for 7 years now. He feels proud “when someone pats on his back and says, job well done”. There have been instances when people have pelted stones at the truck. People feel they arrived late. He reacts by saying, “As soon as we receive a fire call, we leave the station within 20 seconds”. The traffic along with congested roads are major obstacles which hinder their progress.

Earlier there were separate post for drivers but now all firefighters must know how to drive. There are two types of vehicle in a fire station. They are called water tender and water bouger comprising of 4000 liters and 12000 liters of water tank capacity respectively. Once any of the vehicles is taken for duty then its tank has to be full when it returns back to the station. If not, the driver is suspended from work.

Udai singh takes his dinner early on Diwali night. He anticipates many calls during the night. He avoids sleep to serve the people and save lives. They only received 6-7 calls on Diwali night. There has been observed some decrease in fire accidents during diwali. Another firemen, says, “Crackers have become expensive so people buy it in less quantity which slightly reduces the chances of fire”.

Life of a fireman is always at risk. “A fire at Kirti Nagar market some years ago claimed lives of some firemen and several others were injured too, due the sudden collapse of a building”. Another senior officer Dharampal Bhardwaj was seriously injured in the accident. He received a gallantry award for his heroic act where he saved lives of many people.

These firefighters who work for 15 days in a month are involved in one of the most challenging job. They remain active day and night on their call of duty. It is really laudable the way they go about their job in the harshest condition without any fuss.

Youth Festival

•October 31, 2010 • 1 Comment


By Ashim Sunam

Diwali arrived in central park a week in advance. People thronged the park to get entertained on a cool Saturday evening. The Youth fest which was originally scheduled during the commonwealth games was rescheduled after the games due to some problems.

Delhites witnessed wide array of entertainment. It ranged from classical Bharatnatyam dance, school choir, brass band, puppet shows, laser and beam shows to live concerts. The Puppet show brought the entire audience to life with their lively performance on stage. The cultural program put up by Salaam Balak Trust and the SSLT Gujarat senior secondary school received huge applauds form all and sundry.

The most awaited event of the night was the live rock concert by a band from KIrori Mal College and another professional band called Barefaced Liar. Both these bands played some soft collection of their original songs. When the song “Rock on” was played, the audience sang along with them which brought a beautiful night to a rocking end.

All the Small Things

•September 30, 2010 • 1 Comment

By Samir Alam

An ongoing explorations of the minute creatures that surround us and make contributions to the way we live our lives.

Watch this space for new photographs and information.