Homes under water, many Delhi residents have nowhere to go

A walk through northeast Delhi's Yamuna Bazar, one of the worst hit stretches close to the swollen river, means plunging into knee-deep waters. Residents, of course, give a "used to it" look as they stand on terraces and half submerged stairs. Shops in the vicinity are closed - the few that are open are half under water.

"We will have to close the shop if it rains again. This waterlogging is not new, it has been been going on for the last three months. The water level subsides, but one spell of rain and we are back to square one," said Neeraj Lal, a grocer. "There are around 15 shops, of which most are shut. Our business is going for a loss."

It has been pouring cats and dogs in Delhi, which at 889 mm has recorded 86 percent above average rainfall this season.

According to residents, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) officials and workers come frequently, but are unable to provide a permanent solution to the waterlogging.

"MCD officials came, even the (sub-divisional magistrate) SDM visited. They promised to install pumps (machines to take the water out) but it has been three months of wading through knee-deep waters," Nihal Chand Sharma, a local, told IANS.

"Our houses are flooded, we have kept all our things on the terraces, cooking has become a problem, there are hardly any makeshift tents provided by the government. Where should we go?"

"If electric wires fall into this water, it can cost a a life. If there is an open manhole with water all around, we can't see it and anybody can fall into it. We are living on the edge."
The Yamuna Bazaar area consists of more than 20 river banks, with a population of about 2,500-3,000 people.

Around eight tents have provided by the authorities with two folding beds in it. Ten civil defence officials from the SDM's office have been working for the last six days to distribute food among the displaced.

Jeevan Lal, a member of civil defence, SDM's office, said the administration has provided tents but not enough for the number of families in the area. Not enough food is available either. 

"We are distributing food but there is a shortage. People should move to the tents because if they remain outside they may contract various water borne diseases," he said.

Another civil defence official admitted that not enough was being done for the rehabilitation of people even as a group of hungry residents surrounded him, asking for more food.

"I have not eaten since morning, the little I managed to get was for my children. But while on my way to the corner where my children were waiting for me, I slipped in knee- deep water and hurt my leg, I couldn't get up for an hour," said Jayesh, an aggrieved resident.

According to locals, sewage water released from areas like Kashmere Fate, Red Fort and parts of old Delhi and directed to Yamuna Bazar adds to their woes.

Yamuna Bazar is the way to Nigambodh Ghat, one of the biggest cremation grounds in Delhi. Families that had come to cremate their dead had to wade through knee-deep sewage water Monday. There were over 50 pyres on high platforms surrounded by drainage water.

According to the ghat's priest, no rites took place Sunday as the ghat was submerged. "The family members of the deceased were as helpless as us Sunday," said a priest.
A vast number of people who live in the slums near the river's banks have to shift to road pavements. The long stretch of Rajghat has around 30-40 makeshift tents for slumdwellers.

Similar is the situation in Nepali park near the Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) where 25-30 people have been forced to live on pavements. "We have nowhere to go. The whole park is submerged in water due to heavy rains.

"We have to keep carrying our things in and out of the park. We have to wait for hours on the pavement for the water to subside," complained rickshaw puller Jagdish, a resident of the area.

Shastri Park, Usmanpur, ISBT, Tibetan Market, slums near Majnu Ka Tila and Nigambodh ghat are the areas with acute waterlogging on account of heavy rains.

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