Rain-hit Kodagu people's woes yet to melt away

In tatters: Eeshwara and his wife Kaveramma gathered soiled belongings after digging the debris of their house at Emmetalu-Makkandur village in Kodagu district.dh photo/ambarish v

On January 9, almost five months after their house was reduced to heaps of bricks and mud, Eeshwara 65, and his wife Kaveramma carefully dig the ground with a hope to retrieve household articles from the debris. The couple, along with their children, had left the house on the morning of August 16.

“It was raining incessantly that day and we were told by neighbours that houses around Emmetalu-Makkandur village had collapsed. We left the house with house documents in the morning and it must have collapsed the very day. We were in relief camps for a couple of months and moved to a rented house in Makkandur itself. We are trying our luck by digging the ground,’’ Eeshwara said.

Digging for remains

After careful digging for two days, the couple could recover 50 tiles, a few clothes stuffed in the bag and kitchen utensils. Eeshwara was into agriculture on a small piece of land. He grew coffee, besides butter fruit, banana and pepper.

“We were paid Rs 1.5 lakh as immediate compensation. I have been living here for the last 40 years and had built this house 30 years ago. We have three sons and a daughter. We have married off the daughter. The administration has not given me any money for crop loss,’’ Eeshwara said.

He said nine houses were washed away in Emmetalu alone. Some families are staying in Madikeri town, some others have moved to Kedkal and Suntikoppa villages.

Like Eeshwara’s, 840 families have completely lost their houses during the rains in August 2018.

“They (district administration) said houses will be ready in two months. I had gone to the DC office just the other day. They say it will take some time. I heard the construction is going on at five places. But I don’t know where they will allocate the house for us,’’ Eeshwara said.

Rs 10K dole

As many as 11 relief camps have been shut down and the government had announced monthly financial aid of Rs 10,000 to each family towards rent and other expenses. Eeshwara said he is getting Rs 10,000 directly to his bank account. “Though we are now in a rented house, we may have to move to the town once monsoon sets in. We hope the houses will be ready by then,’’ he said.

Apart from the 840 completely collapsed houses, the district administration estimated that 2,225 houses were either severely or partially damaged due to rain.

While some families have got back to their houses, some are staying in rented places. Venugopal, who stayed near Sampaje, said after three rounds of examination,
his house was included in the list of completely damaged houses. His wife Geeta was pregnant when rains hit the district and she delivered the baby in December 2018 at a hospital in Madikeri. The couple stayed at relief camps till December.

Relief camps closed

“Our house is severely damaged and we were told that a new house will be allocated to us either in Made or a place of our choice. We have five acres of agriculture land and we came back here from the relief camp to take care of it. Relief camps were closed on December 17. I have to find out why the Rs-10,000 aid was not credited to my account for January,’’ he said.

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