Dalits, backward classes worst hit by floods

 Most of the flood victims from the marginalised groups lived at village end, where the rivers and streams flow. Thus, their situation has been aggravated due to the precarious nature of their habitation.

A survey by Deccan Herald revealed that more than 60 percent of victims at Gudisagar, Arahatti and Basapur in Dharwad district and Kurlageri, Budihal, Surkod, Hole Mannur and Gadagol in Gadag district are dalits. Even in Bagalkot and Bijapur districts, thousands of families which have been displaced by floods caused by Malaprabha, Don river and streams belong to downtrodden and minority communities.

According to initial estimation, more than 92 villages in Gadag district and 45 villages in Bagalkot have been affected by floods. About 23 villages in Bijapur and 12 villages in Dharwad districts have also been hit by floods. Official sources say that more than 40,000 dalit and backward class families have been affected in these districts.
In villages like Kurlageri, Khyad and Budihal the entire dalit localities (Harijan Keris) have been washed away in the floods.

Casteist housing pattern
“Housing system in villages reflects the caste system of our Indian society. People belonging to upper castes take away the land situated on higher ground. Thus, the people belonging to the oppressed classes are forced to move towards low-lying areas, at the end of the village, which are vulnerable to floods. It is the harijan kheris that are the first casualty of floods,” said Sociology Professor Hemanth Bhutnal.

Lalsab Yandigeri of Hole Mannur, one of the worst-affected village in Gadag district said that he along with others have been demanding to shift their houses, situated near Bennihalla stream. “However, the government is unable to understand the fear of living near a stream,” he said.

Neelavva Bomnalli, Neelappa Chalawadi and Ningavva Mundargi, who are from the same village also echoed the same opinion.“Forcing the dalits to reside at the end of the village is a ploy of the vicious caste system,” added Prof Bhutnal.

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