Maharashtra: Deluge-affected gear up to rebuild shattered lives

The damaged vegetation and bent electric poles were an indication of the force with which flood waters must have gushed into the area, submerging everything that came its way.

By Author  |  Published: 19th Aug 2019  4:46 pm

Sangli: Hundreds of submerged sugarcane farms, damaged houses with only sludge inside, decomposed animal carcasses lying around with people struggling to clean their dwellings to get on with life – this is the scene in several flood-ravaged villages of Sangli and Kolhapur.

Heavy rains and floods battered several areas of western Maharashtra and Konkan region earlier this month, with Kolhapur and Sangli districts bearing the maximum brunt.

With the flood waters now receding, residents of these two districts are gradually trying to gather whatever they are left with to rebuild their lives and damaged homes.

A walk through some of these villages presents a dismal picture of devastation and havoc caused by rain fury and its far-reaching effects on locals.

A poultry farm on way from Bhilawadi to Brahmanal village in Palus tehsil of Sangli was seen completely washed away in the flood waters, with only muck remaining and a decomposed animal carcass stinking nearby.

The damaged vegetation and bent electric poles were an indication of the force with which flood waters must have gushed into the area, submerging everything that came its way.

Heaps of clothes donated by people were seen lying on roadsides as many of the locals did not pick them up because they were worn out.

In Bhilawadi village, some shop owners were seen cleaning their establishments, with some local groups and NGOs lending a helping hand in disposing of garbage from the area.

Mauli Salunkhe, 52, a native of flood-hit Brahmanal village now working in a Pune-based company, dubbed it as the Krishna river’s wrath, but said they were prepared to rebuild things from scratch.

“Krishnamai (the mother river) took everything which we had in our houses, but it’s ok. We will build our house again,” he said.

He expressed grief over the boat capsize incident on August 8 during a rescue operation near Brahmanal village that killed 17 people.

“I can only say she (the river) washed away our village. I feel sad that some many people died in the incident,” Salunkhe said, adding he managed to shift his aged parents to Pune before the situation worsened in the village.

After the flood waters started receding, Salunkhe came back to the village with some food and clothes to help the residents, he said while cleaning his house along with other family members.
As he was speaking, a tempo carrying rice, wheat and other relief material arrived in the village, prompting Salunkhe and others to run to collect it.

Another local resident, Shital Lote, said the area witnessed flood-like situation every year during rains but they were not prepared for devastation of such a magnitude this time.

“There were hundreds of cattle in the village before the deluge. Some were later shifted to safer places and some were left to their fate,” he said.

He said a help centre has been set up at a primary school in the village where food and other essential items are being distributed.

“The government has announced Rs 15,000 for flood- affected people, but they are giving Rs 5,000 initially and the remaining amount will be given later,” he said.

Similar is the plight of some villages in Kolhapur’s Kurundwad and neighboring areas located on the banks of the Krishna and Panchganga rivers.

Thousands of residents of Shirti, Hasur, Shirol, Ghalwad, Arjunwad and Dharangutti villages are staying at temporary shelters set up in schools, colleges and auditoriums in Shirol and Kurundwad.

Shabud Babu Kamble, a resident of Shirti who is currently staying at a relief camp, said, “I saw this kind of flood for the first time in my life. We were rescued by the local administration on boats and brought here, he said, adding that he had not changed his clothes for last 10 days.
Sikandar Shikalgar, a resident of Kurundwad, said he and several others from the area have not had proper meals since last 11 days.

“We are getting 2 kg rice and some medicines since this Saturday. Our houses are totally destroyed, there is no electricity at home. The government should build homes for us,” another local, Shabbir Shikalgar, said.

Kurundwad was one of the worst affected places as the water level there rose to about 15 feet above the ground in the recent floods, stranding people on terraces of their homes, another local resident, Prasanna Joshi, said.

“Power supply has not been restored in most of the houses here,” he added.