Sun shines but smiles yet to return to North Karnataka

Sun shines but smiles yet to return to North Karnataka

Sun shines but smiles yet to return to North Karnataka

A flood victim cleans his valuables as he returned after water receded in his village near Shaktinagar, some 530 kilometers north of Bangalore on Friday. APTheir houses built by mud and stones crashed during pounding rains and subsequent flash floods caused by the swollen Malaprabha river and the trauma they underwent last week is still fresh in their minds.

Many climbed tree tops while others perched themselves on temple roofs and starved of food and water before boats came to rescue them. Five villagers of Hiremagi were not lucky. They fell from an overcrowded boat and drowned.

"This is the first time in my life that I saw a calamity of this magnitude," said 65-year-old Adiyappagowda Hanumagowda Patil in Benala village, as he tried to pick up some plastic stuff which he said is needed to protect his grandchildren.

His house had collapsed like 4,471 dwellings in the district, where 28,450 houses were damaged severely while 18,843 partially.

"In Benala, 60 per cent of total 250 houses have collapsed," said Shekharaiah Chandrashekharaiah Mrityunjaya Hiremath. A 'dargah' was among the structures that collapsed here. Flash flood waters entered most of the houses and in some, it was neck-deep, a villager said.

Standing crops in tens of thousands of hectares have been destroyed in the district. Stocks of food grains were washed away.

The rain impact in this district was devastating.... 33 lives were lost, 45 villages marooned and 2,45,027 people are lodged in 531 relief camps.

All the 150 houses in Ingalagi village had collapsed and the families were at present housed in a school. Food, clothing and other required stuff was pouring in to many of these camps and surprisingly, there was hardly anybody who complained of poor supply.
"We are okay in this school till October 22, when it reopens. After that we will be on road," said Saraswati, as cooked dal and rice was getting ready to be served to the displaced.

It was no different in Khairwadagi, which has been deserted by the villagers after all the houses collapsed. Most of them are now packed in temporary sheds. "I have lost everything. I sleep on the road. I have nowhere else to go," a villager said.

There were scenes of despair as well. Ramesh Beerappa, Ammappa Gadad, Siddappa Yamappa Kelur, Balappa, Mallappa Kabhargi, Shivanappa, Sharanaiah Hiremath and Ningappa Manikatt and scores of others had their own stories to tell on how the torrential rains and the nature's fury turned their life upside-down.

A volunteer said most of these houses collapsed because they did not invest in their maintenance for years.

More than the government and its agencies, it appeared it was voluntary organisations, NGOs, philanthropists and corporates who pitched in with relief materials.

Some of the scenes reflected the human spirit and the resilience of people who have lost everything. Their hope for the future and never-say-die spirit was exemplary.

There was a medical team from Gujarat, led by Vajubhai Parekh, which was conducting tests on people and distributing medicines. The other day, women in Bagalkot voluntarily chipped in, and made 'chapatis' for the victims. Students also joined the relief operations.

"Today's youth has service on mind; you only have to motivate and channelise their energies," said Srinivas who is leading one of the medical teams along with H D Patil and R H Fattepur. Officials said 2,000 students have spread out to different flood-hit areas to help in relief works.

RSS volunteers could be seen in many places distributing food to the flood victims. Villagers said Toyota Kirloskar Motor and L & T sent bedsheets, blankets and medicines as the relief materials.

Most of the flood-hit want their villages, now on downstream, to be relocated and given money to build houses.

"We don't want anything else. We will fend for ourselves and survive somehow. But government should relocate our villages and we should be provided houses." "Everybody has risen to the challenge. It is beyond our expectations," a volunteer said, adding that there is sufficient food stock for the flood-hit. What we need to do is to build houses for them. That is the main task now," he said.