Breakfast around evening

Breakfast around evening

Reality bites at a gruel centre in Koppal taluk

 It was already 3.30 pm on Monday when the ‘breakfast’ was prepared at a gruel centre (commonly knows as ganji kendra) of Vaddara Colony of Hiresindogi village in Koppal taluk.

Since morning at least 200 people, including children, were starving till late in the afternoon to have their first morsel of the day.

And that sums up the plight of shelterless people. And, that also reflects on the tall claims made by politicians that help is being rushed to the affected and funds are being released liberally for the relief works.

As the villagers stretched their empty plates at the gruel centres, the people, who were serving the food, had a tough time in meeting the request. A few people at the centre  gheraoed a revenue department official, who was supervising the food preparations, for the delay in serving food.

Sanna Mariyappa Gaddi, one among the hungry lot, said, “Preparation of the food is delayed because rice bags arrived late.” Of course none need to explain the reasons for the delay. While officials insist that they are doing their best, that ‘best’ is not sufficient to meet the bare requirements of the roofless villagers. In Koppal taluk alone 45 gruel centres have been opened. Hiresandogi village is blessed with two centres.

The village was completely marooned as Hirehalla river swelled during the rains. The village had witnessed floods last year too. But this time the magnitude of devastation is unmanageable.

Over 300 people have found shelter at Siddalingeshwara temple, where a gruel centre is set up. The authorities provide rice, dal and oil besides utensils. That’s not sufficient for preparing food.

While the centre at Uppara Colony in the village prepared rice and sambar on Monday, at Vaddara Colony centre it was chitranna (lemon rice). This reporter tasted rice and sambar. It was just a mix of rice and tasteless coloured liquid. The food was prepared by the villagers themselves with the limited ingredients available. So none passed a negative comment about the quality or the taste.

“Anything is better than nothing. The officials provide us with rice, meant to be supplied to BPL families under the PDS. We were earlier not entitled for the ration. But now we are also poor and so using it,” said Channabasappa.

One of the difficult tasks the villagers are facing is getting clean drinking water for cooking. As many as nine electric poles have fallen obstructing electricity supply. This has plunged the villages into darkness and also affected drinking water supply. “We are fetching water from Hirehalla located about one km from the village. Till electricity supply is restored we have to face the ordeal,” said Hanumavva.

Despite all these odds cleanliness is maintained at the gruel centres. Dr Sharanappa Hiregowdar, medical officer at a community health centre in the village, said he had deployed his staff to the gruel centres. Halogen tablets are being used to purify water. “We are doing our best to see that food is prepared using uncontaminated water,” the doctor said.

It is ironical that villagers, mainly farmers, whose vocation is only to feed others are now stretching out their hands for food. The common demand among the victims is that the gruel centres should continue to provide food till temporary sheds are constructed.
According to Koppal tahsildar P N Lokesh, 565 houses in the village are damaged. Efforts are on to put up temporary sheds.