Thousands rendered homeless, many stranded amid rising water in their fields, some forced to take refuge on rooftops and trees, others unable to leave their villages marooned by flash-floods. This is the picture in several parts of north Karnataka - and now in Karwar in coastal Karnataka - after six days of unrelenting rain that has set the death toll rising.
Well over one lakh houses have been damaged or destroyed across the State and 2,847 head of cattle lost and acres of agricultural fields destroyed.
In Bijapur, one of the worst affected districts where 29 people have died, no fewer than 30 villages on the banks of Don river are marooned, including Tonshyal where water has entered hundreds of houses. Since the approach road to the village is cut off by floodwaters, rescue operations have not yet begun.
Rescue efforts have been hampered by the rain, rising water and landslides. In Bagalkot, five persons were washed away in floodwaters in Hiremyageri village when the rescue boat capsized on Saturday afternoon.
In Chitradurga, Ashamma (18) and Palakshamma (21) were the latest victims of the deluge, taking the toll to four in the district. According to reports, the duo were washed away in floods while crossing the Somannakere rivulet in a bullock cart. More than 4,356 hectares of crops have been destroyed while close to 50 head of cattle have perished. Onion crops on 2,422 hectares are rotting because of excess moisture and waterlogged fields.
A dozen villages along the Tungabhadra and Hagari rivers were marooned in Siraguppa taluk in Bellary district. “The water-level in the villages was above chest level and it was even higher over the bridges. We managed to leave the village, wading through the floodwaters holding each other’s hand. I have not witnessed such a situation in the recent past,” said Nagamma, an elderly woman.
Floods in Gulbarga have destroyed 15,450 houses and killed 328 head of cattle and sheep. The loss of private and public property is estimated at Rs. 215 crore. The district continues to remain disconnected from Bangalore both by rail and road.
The district administration claimed that 27,099 people had been evacuated from flood-hit areas and housed in 53 relief camps in Gulbarga district. The condition in the relief camps, which now serve as shelter to evacuees from marooned villages in Surpur, Shahapur, Yadgir and Jewargi taluks, is pathetic. They lack basic amenities and people have been waiting endlessly for officials to provide them blankets and other basic requirements.
“We were bundled into a tractor-trailer like goats and dumped in this school and were made to wait for more than five hours for our lunch, which was served at 4.30 p.m.,” said Mallamma Subash who, along with her three children, had to flee from her house in Chikka Jewargi following a flash-flood. More than 300 residents of Chikka Jewargi were brought to the Government High School in Jewargi town, which was converted as a temporary relief camp by the authorities.
Some of the inmates of the relief camp included women in advanced stages of pregnancy and few who had given birth to babies just two or three days back. The inmates of the camp bitterly complained that even the pregnant women were not provided blankets and were made to sit on the floor.
Out of sight
Pathepur, a remote village in Raichur taluk with a population predominantly belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Backward Classes, has been all but overlooked by the district administration. With a population of 1,000, nearly 100 huts collapsed in floods and several people, mostly shepherds, went missing. The district administration has not yet reached the village or sent any assistance.