Calamity is a constant here, magnitude magnified now

Calamity is a constant here, magnitude magnified now

For thousands of tribals in Somwarpet and Madikeri taluks, the heavy rain poses an existential threat as they struggle to cope with damaged houses and waste oozing from broken toilets. dh Photo/B H Shivakumar

Thousands of impoverished residents living in about 120 tribal hamlets spread across Somwarpet and Madikeri taluks have been the invisible victims of the floods that ravaged Kodagu district over the last two weeks.

Though the landslides have not affected them directly, the incessant rain and floodwaters have threatened their thatch and mud houses. For leaders and officials busy with managing largescale damages, these hamlets have remained out of sight.

The Heroor Hadi in Somwarpet taluk is situated about 12 km from Basavanahalli on the Madikeri-Mysuru Road. The interior road splits into two: an asphalted road leading to several homestays, while a mud road leads to the tribal colony.

J T Kalinga, vice president of Lamp Society’s taluk unit, who has been helping the hamlet, said tribals have long endured what people in Madikeri are suffering now.

“They do not have proper houses and food on any given day. No official has come here since the heavy rains damaged the houses and filled our toilets with silt. Let alone compensation, we have not even heard from local leaders,” he said.

Somwarpet Lamp Society president Raja Rao said the situation was similar in most of the about 120 hamlets in the two taluks.

“These are people dependent on daily wages and foodgrains from government schemes. But there is no work since the floods and they have not got foodgrains from PDS shops,” he said.

Krishna, a resident, said after the floods hit the major roads, the PDS shop in Somwarpet had not distributed foodgrains to anyone.

“We survived on raw papaya for three weeks. The PDS shop has never been of help. The Aadhaar authentication has made it difficult to get food as those at the shop process only four or five people per day. We are given reasons like power failure and poor (internet) connection,” he said.

The housing schemes by successive governments over the last few decades have not made any changes here. Most of the houses are built of thatch and some have mud walls.

One of the houses built with hollow blocks suffered damage after a tree fell on it at the start of the month.

Kalinga said the situation is similar in Balegundi, Chikkalli Katte, Mavinahalli, Kallur, Mahalambi, Hunasepare, Soolebhavi and Bandebetta among other hamlets. “We are invisible to officials. They have not even counted us among the victims,” he said.