It's a bitter pain of leaving sweet home

Victims asked to live in match box structures in faraway locations

It's a bitter pain of  leaving sweet home

living on the edge: Residents of Kuruvakurda depend on coracle to reach their village. They want a bridge to cross River Krishna rather than houses for relocation.  dh Photo

The government has plans to relocate as many as 226 flood-prone villages, but the residents prefer to stay in their ancestral villages.

The villages are located on the banks of water bodies, swelling of which caused massive damage to life and property last year. many of the residents for whom the houses are being built, told Deccan Herald: “Why should we leave our place?”. They abhor and distrust the term flood-prone.

“I have witnessed three floods in my life. The first was in 1962, the second in 1991 and now (2009). Last year was the worst, although the river water did not reach our village”, said Hanumanthappa, in his 60s. The resident of Shaliganur on the bank of Tungabhadra river in Koppal district finds no logic in relocating the  village for three floods in last 60 years.

Reluctant to leave

Most villagers are reluctant to leave their places where they have been living for as long as they can remember. They prefer to live close to their farms. They are not prepared to give up their houses nor they will reject the new houses to be sanctioned by the government. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

The government, it appears, announced the relocation of the villages in a hurry, without studying the causes for the damage. All villages close to water bodies were not submerged.  Take the example of Kakkaragolla in Gangavathi taluk of Koppal district. The village is located on an elevated place along the Tungabhadra river. Rain damaged the houses, not the flooded river.

Kuruvakurda, Kuruvakala and Mangigadda villages in Raichur taluk form an island surrounded by Krishna river. For every facility, except primary school and primary health centre people of the villages have to cross the river. The government marked all three villages for total relocation, although none of the houses in the villages were flooded by the river. Instead of shifting, the residents want a bridge across the river.

“The river water stopped at about 300 metres  from the villages. It was the rains that damaged our houses, like in the past,” Basappa of Kuruvakurda said.

Total relocation

The villages were identified for total relocation even in the past when the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh proposed the Priyadarshini Jurala irrigation project. The AP government contributed funds for the rehabilitation. The Karnataka government developed a layout with plots measuring 30X40 ft in Atkur and Dongarampura in Raichur taluk in 2001 for the villagers. But none occupied the plots. The affected families also received compensation of Rs 70,000 per acre of land, but did not leave the villages. “I will not leave the village even if I am stuck in neck-deep floods. If the water rises above my neck, I will think of shifting,” says Anand of Kuruvakurda.  

‘This land is gold for us’

The reason for the families’ resistance is that they own fertile land in these villages. They argue that no government can offer them land as fertile as they are in possession now.
“We harvest about 40 quintals of paddy in an acre in one season. The land is like gold for us”, said Thippamma of Kuruvakurda which has about 700 acres of paddy fields.

Size and design of the new houses are also reasons for the flood victims not to prefer new houses. As many as 1,200 families in Hachcholli in Siruguppa taluk have been asked to shift to new houses built two kilometres away. But the families which continue to live in the structures that withstood the rains and floods are not willing to leave their homes for tiny rooms.

“The new layout may serve as an extension to the village. Joint families may become divided, with one branch occupying new house,” says Siddaiah Swamy of the village.

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