What the visitors brought...

What the visitors brought...

Flood relief

Volunteers clean up a drainage in Holealuru, Gadag

As the scar of the recent floods in parts of North Karnataka slowly faded away from public memory, the many restoration tales of kindness came to the fore. Good samaritans and volunteers scripted kinds of narratives in helping the flood-hit.

In Holealuru, Ron taluk of Gadag, a team of about 2,000 volunteers, also members of the Shri Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari Pratishthan in Maharashtra, from across Gadag, Vijayapura, Kalaburagi and Koppal districts, Solapur and Pune pitched in for a clean-up. The lot comprised civil servants, doctors, engineers, professors, labourers and industrialists.

“I was travelling to Mumbai via Solapur when I was told that Holealuru was submerged. I reached Mumbai and discussed clean-up drives with Appasaheb Dharmadhikari, the founder president of the pratishthana, and he approved,” Vijay Lakkundi, an industrialist, said. 

The pratishthana volunteers don’t receive funds from governments or private agencies. They spend money from their pockets. Holealuru, Jambagi and Kudala Sangama villages were chosen for clean-up drives. 

“But residents of Jambagi and Kudala Sangama said that normalcy had returned to their villages. They advised us to work for Holealuru,” he said.

On the day

On August 30, by 6.30 am, a large army of volunteers arrived in Holealuru in 25 cars, 15 tractors, buses, bikes and other private vehicles. They had already identified places that needed attention. So, they began cleaning the public places and structures that had remained submerged for a few days.

They brought with them pickaxes, brooms, buckets, brushes, wipers, gloves and other material. They also brought drinking water.

The Malaprabha and the Benni Halla rivers had strayed from their paths and rushed into the houses along their banks .

The flood had brought in a lot of mud, slush and other waste, making the village uninhabitable.

“Getting rid of thick layers of mud with hidden frogs and reptiles was not that easy,” Ramesh Jatgar, a volunteer says.

“It was impossible to be at one place for a few minutes due to the foul smell,” Dr Ramachandra, a volunteer, remarked.

“The entire area of a kalyana mantapa was covered in layers of silt and mud. It took hours for us to clean it. The stink as we started scraping the surface was unbearable,” recalled Lakkundi. The Alur Venkata Rao Circle was in a complete mess.

But cleaning up government buildings and academic institutions was a bigger challenge. What lied thick on floors were not just river deposits. It was a mixture of everything — from septic tank waste to carcasses of animals, snakes and fish. The slush had solidified making their work more difficult.

Only 12 hours of non-stop work, that ended by 6.30 pm, restored normalcy.

The residents of Holealuru said they got vigour to work and clean up the neighbourhood. The little help gave them enthusiasm to revive themselves. “The gram panchayat did take up clean-up drives, but the attempts were unsuccessful. The pratishthan’s drive has made our village liveable,” said Prakash, a gram panchayat member.

“The volunteers came to our village from nowhere and made our lives comfortable. They left without expecting anything,” Fakursab Chikkamannur, a resident, said.

Teachers bring back smiles...

Selfless work by a group of 30 volunteers, led by three teachers brought back smiles to many flood victims and students in Belagavi district.

Veeranna Madiwalar, a writer and teacher at a lower primary school in Ambedkarnagar, Raibag taluk; Mohan Rajamane, the Bendawad cluster resource person; and Bhupal Mane, the Diggewadi cluster resource person, could not sit idle when they heard about the floods. 

“Many villages were mostly submerged when we set out. Scenes of people in distress welcomed us. Buildings were marooned, and there was none to help the victims,” Madiwalar said. The situation only got worse when the trio went further. Madiwalar documented the plight on camera and shared them on Facebook, along with his bank account details, and requested donations for relief work.

“I barely knew that this could create a miracle,” he said.

Students of Srishaileshwar Vidyakendra, Sanduru, Bellari and Union of Unaided Schools, Sira, Tumakuru stuffed two buses with relief material and rushed to Raibag. 

“Hemalatha, a faculty member at PG Centre, Mandya, donated Rs 20,000 and came forward to handle the expenses of one family for a year,” recalled Madiwalar.

Within no time, he received Rs 3.50 lakh in his account. They first bought sugar, tea powder and biscuits. “I shared details of my expenses as well on Facebook. We were transparent and hence, more relief poured in,” he pointed out. 

“We wanted to ensure those distressed in remote areas are benefited. We surveyed the region, identified the victims, and handed over the materials personally,” he shared.

The trio worked between 6 am and 11 pm every day. Between August 8 and 25, they visited 40 relief camps and 34 villages in Chikkodi, Athani and Raibag taluks.

“We also received low-quality material, but we rejected them. We supplied only quality material,” he said.

When normalcy arrived, they focused on schools and children. They procured bags, pens, pencils and compasses, and provided them to 400 children across eight schools.

“We managed to give them books and notebooks needed for one academic year,” he said. The trio have continued their efforts. They have finalised a list of 150 school children expecting assistance.

Help on wheels

Ten employees of BMTC Depot-17 decided to spend from their earnings and help flood victims. “We identified Chinchakhandi village in Belagavi, 650 km from Bengaluru,” Mahantesh Mannur said.

They personally visited the village to know how many people needed relief material. On August 21, they hired a truck and reached the village with rice, sugar, tea powder, biscuits and pulses. They set up a relief camp at a government college. “We didn’t depend on anybody as we wanted to help only those people in need of help,” he says.