Will polls improve flood-victims’ lot?

Parvathi Menon
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Most of the houses constructed under the flagship Aasare scheme of the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the villages of Kongawad and Aratti in Navalgund taluk of Dharwad district remain unoccupied. They stretch out in long lines of small yellow boxes baking under the hot April sun. The few that have been occupied have been extended with tin sheets or thatch to form sheds to accommodate a family’s cattle and other belongings. These are villages built to rehabilitate victims of the devastating floods that ravaged several north Karnataka districts in October 2009, claiming 229 lives and reducing thousands of villages to rubble.

“The houses were ready two years after the floods, and it took another year for it to be formally inaugurated,” said Neelappa Jakkanavar, a farmer with two acres, who lives with his wife and three children in his small house. People have not moved in because though pipes have been laid there is no water. For large families the 260-sq.-ft space is insufficient.

In Aratti village, Muthappa Dyamappa Madar’s is among a handful of families that have moved in. He evinces little interest in the elections to be held on May 5. In these flood-created villages, it is ironically the impact of drought and the uncertainty of employment that is staring working families in the face. The elections have generated some jobs in an otherwise jobless situation, especially in the semi-urban and urban areas of the district, where parties employ people for campaigning, for anything between Rs. 200 and Rs. 400 with two meals thrown in.

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