Poonam Doipode, a poor woman, is running from pillar to post for claiming the compensation amount from Suburban Collector office, Bandra. Poonam’s two children – Priyanka (9) and six-month-old Swapnil – died due to the pipeline burst at Bandra Terminus three years back. Being a single mother she is struggling to make both ends meet to support her two children. Officials from Suburban Collector office, Bandra had sent officials to gather information about the hardships faced by Poonam in the aftermath of the pipeline blast incident. They had prepared all the documents pertaining to the pipeline burst incident. However, they refused to pay compensation to Poonam.
Already three years have passed and Poonam continues to wait for the compensation amount. Poonam said, “The officials from Suburban Collector office had themselves come to meet me for carrying out the survey relating to the pipeline burst incident. Whenever I try to contact them for the compensation they use foul language against me.” Poonam is surviving with her two children. Many officials from media are approaching Poonam to cover the story. She does household work like cleaning utensils to support her children.
Poonam’s husband also abandoned her on the same day when the pipeline blast incident occurred. “I am not educated and have to perform household duties to support my family. I am demanding justice for my children who have passed away in the pipeline burst incident. The government must support my two children who are surviving,” she added.
The younger son Vignesh is five years old and the 15-year-old daughter Neha is not studying and she is mentally disabled. She discontinued her studies after the seventh standard. The slum where Poonam is residing is close to the water pipeline. Poonam was unaware that the pipeline existed beneath her slum. Her children Priyanka and Swapnil passed away due to the pipeline burst incident. Due to water pressure, the cover of the pipeline had come out. She said that her family is very poor and are finding it difficult to sustain. Allegations have been made against Poonam for illegally staying in the slum areas. However, she defends herself and stated that she has both Aadhaar and Ration card as proof of identity and residence. She also possesses children’s birth certificate and they are studying in school. Poonam is staying in her home without water and electricity supply. She alleged, “The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials are troubling me. They had demolished my slum as I rebuilt my home using plastic sheets. The government is not providing any assistance to me. I had gone to suburban collector office but I was harassed by officials and told to go home.”
They asked her why she is demanding compensation for her deceased children. Officials asked her to visit Mantralaya with her grievances. They also demanded proof from Poonam for claiming compensation. Poonam is in possession of the documents offered by the officials of Suburban Collector office. She also possesses death certificates of her children. She only wants the government to provide compensation to her children.
Krishna Hegde, BJP Mumbai Vice President said, “A water pipeline had burst in Kherwadi (E), Bandra three years ago which claimed the lives of two children. BMC washed its hands over the incident and passed the buck on Collectors office to pay compensation to the victim. The civic body stated that it is not a natural death. Poonam has been seeking compensation since last three years and injustice has been meted against her.”
“She is a single parent taking care of her children. The Collector is saying that they are not responsible. Poonam had approached the collector’s office and a letter has arrived from the Chief Minister’s office to look into the matter. However, the collector is calling it an unnatural cause. The Collector office should provide compensation to the woman. They should consider this case on humanitarian grounds,” he added.
By Akshay Redij