Flood victims living in cow sheds

Kavita Upadhyay
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A damaged house along with a tent and a tin shed, all of which are situated on sinking land.– PHOTO: Kavita Upadhyay
A damaged house along with a tent and a tin shed, all of which are situated on sinking land.– PHOTO: Kavita Upadhyay

“We live like calves inside these cow sheds,” Manish Kumar, a resident of Chandrapuri village said while pointing towards the cow sheds in the village that are now inhabited by the villagers.

Around 72 km from Kedarnath, the village, which is in Rudraprayag district, was hit by flash-floods on June 16 and 17. Fifty-seven houses in the village got destroyed from the gush that entered the valley and within a few hours the space earlier occupied by residential buildings got bulldozed over by the Mandakini river.

More than six months after the disaster, many villagers reside in cow sheds and few others in tents.

Landless labourers and daily wage workers reside in the village amid severe winter.

While Kundan Lal, another resident of the village, prepares fire for the night, he is joined by seven other family members, all of whom live in two tents. The family has rotated between five villages post-disaster.

Though the district administration paid them money for rent, the bridge over the Mandakini river that passes beside the village got swept away during the disaster. Mr Lal said, “We had to live in tents as there were not enough houses in the village.”

Of the 3,100 buildings that were destroyed across the State in the mid-June deluge, 2,410 buildings are in rural areas.Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna had earlier announced that the disaster-affected would be shifted to individual residences before winter sets in but not much work regarding housing can be spotted in any of the disaster-hit areas across the State.

Survey of land which is geologically safe to construct buildings is going on in Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Pithoragarh, and Bageshwar districts, which were hit by the disaster.

While the State government is still working on housing issues, in Chandrapuri some private organisations are providing the villagers capital for the villagers to be able to construct houses.

Fifteen km from Chandrapuri towards Kedarnath is Simi village. In the village, land is sinking as a result of the mid-June disaster.

Parvati Devi, a resident of Simi village whose hotel got completely destroyed due to land sinking said, “Land started sinking after the June 16-17 deluge. The Mandakini river kept eroding the river banks and after four days my hotel crumbled down completely.”

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