Left high and dry by administration, villagers get help from locals

After the flood havoc in Uttarakhand, every day residents of Chandrapuri and other villages in Rudraprayag district wait for a jeep to deliver them food and water. For a week, they have been walking for more than 35 km daily to look for the jeep but in vain. One fine morning, someone finally comes to their rescue.

Even as the State government is taking its own time to reach out to the villagers, the locals have taken the initiative to serve the residents, who have lost all their means of livelihood in the catastrophe.

Manmohan Jhinkwan from Kotdwar in Pauri district came with a jeep full of essentials to distribute to people in Bhiri, Chandrapuri, and other villages.

With seven other people along, Jhinkwan delivers rice, cereals, sugar, water and biscuits to villagers within a radius of 15 km around Chandranagar.

“After this, we will send utensils to the affected villagers,” he said.

Jhinkwan and his friends have collected Rs. 3 lakh and got these essentials.

Surendra Pant, a taxi driver from Pauri, who also brought essentials, said: “The villagers lost everything — their houses, shops, hotels, money; some lost their life as well.”

Pant, with his team of six other drivers, collected Rs. 30,000 and brought essentials to the villages, which remain cut off, thanks to broken roads and bridges.

The first help received by these villagers was only on Monday morning after a week since the area was hit by the floods.

On June 16, heavy rainfall increased the level of the Mandakini river, which flows along the NH-107 in Rudraprayag district.

On June 17, around 2 a.m., the Mandakini flooded Rudraprayag. The NH-107 was washed away and many hotels along the road were destroyed.

After the complete destruction of the NH-107, the only road connecting these villages to Chandranagar, the nearest place of supply of essentials, got filled with debris falling from mountains.

With almost no help from the administration, the villagers themselves got together to temporarily relay the road. Till Monday, the road was vulnerable but allowed one vehicle to pass at one time. It was because of this disconnected road that the villagers in the flood-ravaged areas in Rudraprayag district were left without any outside help.

Some people with a raft did come there on Sunday to help the residents cross the Mandakini as most of the bridges connecting the two mountains got destroyed in the flood. But the rains on Sunday made it difficult for the raft to function.

An entire village of Chandrapuri got swept away in the flood.

Vishwamitra Bhatt, who owned a shop in Chandrapuri, said, “My house, my shop, everything got swept away.”

Only three of the 150 houses remain. Silt deposited by the flood has covered the entire village.

Satish Kumar, a resident of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh who works as an electrician in the Singoli-Bhatwari Hydroelectric Project, said, “The river swept away two units of the projects. The material in the dumping yard too got washed away.” This debris has now been deposited on the Mandakini river bed.

Debris from the dumping yard of a barrage being constructed by Lanco Industries too got carried along with the Mandakini.

With all the bridges connecting the villages on the two sides of the Mandakini having been broken, the residents have to walk for almost 35 km to buy things from the nearest market. Even to receive the essentials being offered by the natives, these villagers will have to tread this distance until the NH and the bridges are rebuilt.