From providing homes for displaced to being homeless

From providing homes for displaced to being homeless

A member of Desai family in Ingalagi, Bagalkot taluk, cooks food in a room spared for the flood-hit family by a villager, who himself was the beneficiary of the generosity of the Desagati family in 2009 floods. DH PHOTO

During 2009 floods, the Ingalagi Desai family - which once controlled a minor principality (Desagati) - had parted with a portion of land to provide shelter for the homeless. But as the fate would have it, the swollen Malaprabha, earlier this month, has washed away their house and belongings, leaving Desai family homeless.

The descendants of Annarao Deshpande (Desai), whose Desagati included Ingalagi, Kesanur, Bhagavati, Mudapuji and Aanadinni, are now taking refuge at Shankrappa Radder's house in the village. Radder is one of the many beneficiaries of the generosity of the Desai family.

They are Desai (lords) of our village. We are living in their property. Hence, I took them to my house and spared a room for them, Shankrappa told DH.

In 1963, Annarao Deshpande had donated 24 acres of land on the outskirts of Ingalagi village. A decade back, when Malaprabha wreaked havoc on the village, the government rehabilitated the flood-displaced at the land donated by Desai family. Half of the Ingalagi village population has been moved to the land once owned by Desai family. The new village also houses a government school.

Then chief minister B S Yediyurappa and his Cabinet colleague S A Ramdas, during their visit to the village, honoured the members of Desai family for helping the government in resettling the homeless.

Ashok and Hanumanth work as Gramin Dak Sevaks and make a living on the honorarium.

"We have lost a vast tract of land to the Land Tenancy Act. And now the rampaging Malaprabha river has rendered us homeless. We don't know what to do," Jayashree, wife of Hanumanth Desai, poured out her woes to DH.

Hanumanth Desai told DH, "Villagers respect our family for what it did to them over the years. But we are struggling for a decent life. A few relatives have invited us to stay with them or in a rented house in the town. But how can we leave our ancestral home?."

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