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‘Those unaffected by naphtha tragedy benefitted at our cost’
August 19, 2012
VASCO: The burnt trees still stand as a grim reminder to a tragic incident that continues to traumatise residents of Dhaktollem-Vasco.
It was a year ago that the naphtha pipeline burst into flames and wreaked havoc in Dhaktollem, claiming five lives and injuring several others, besides causing untold damage to the environment.
style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: justify; ">Residents of Dhaktollem continue to live in fear even after one year of the naphtha fire incident, which engulfed the entire Dhaktollem.
“The naphtha still seeps into the wells and nullahs. It’s one year since the tragedy, but we still live in fear. At the slightest noise, we rush out of our houses for safety,” says Tulsidas Naik.
Reacting strongly to claims by Zuari Indian Oiltanking Ltd (ZIOL) that it had adequately compensated those affected by the naphtha tragedy, aggrieved residents allege that ZIOL had failed to take into account the vegetation and plantations destroyed in the fire.
Residents are also upset that many opportunists had taken advantage of the tragedy and had made a quick buck.
“I lost my daughter’s gold ornaments, two scooters and my pet dog. ZIOL partially compensated us, but the fire destroyed seven jackfruit trees, 12 coconut trees and two mango trees. We used to earn additional income through the sale of these fruits,” said Santan Martins.
Many residents complained that the naphtha fire had destroyed vegetation in the entire area, but ZIOL had failed to restore it.
“The water still smells of naphtha as traces of naphtha are still found in the water. The ground water is completely contaminated and authorities have failed to test the water and book the culprits,” said one resident.
Pundalik Borkar, who supports two blind children, claimed that ZIOL had failed to compensate them adequately.
“Those not affected by the naphtha fire earned at our cost and the company paid them handsomely,” lamented Borkar.
“I work for a contractor for Rs 5,000 and with that paltry sum, I have to look after my blind daughter and son,” he said.
“ZIOL officials are not willing to hear my plea and for the last one year I have been running from pillar to post to get justice,” added Borkar.
Another resident, Varesh Naik, said he received the initial amount of Rs 2 lakh for his house which was gutted in the fire.
“ZIOL had sought a letter from the Mamlatdar’s office to prove that my house was really gutted in the naphtha fire. Since the last 11 months, I have been visiting the Mamlatdar’s office to get this letter, but the Aval Karkoon has failed to give the letter despite officials confirming that my house was gutted,” said Naik.
“The Aval Karkoon even told me that he will not forward the letter to ZIOL authorities and challenged me to do whatever I can. He even challenged me to approach any minister and report the matter in the newspapers, as he did not care,” alleged Naik.
Naik said his 70 square metre house was 45-years-old and the rate finalised by ZIOL officials was Rs 13,500 per square metre
“The ZIOL is ready to pay the compensation amount provided the Mamlatdar’s office submits a report to the company,” he said.
Incidentally, many residents claim they are yet to get their compensation due to the pending Mamlatdar’s report.