Delhi floods Ground Report |In Delhi's Mayur Vihar area, amidst rising waters, residents are using rickshaws, to salvage their belongings and transport them to higher dry ground. The urgency in their actions is palpable. One individual, in a rush, declines our attempt to engage in conversation. With a sense of alarm, he manages to utter, "The water levels are rising again, and our home is now completely submerged. We are desperately salvaging our belongings to minimize the damage." Similar scenes can be witnessed across the Delhi, as individuals bravely wade through the flooded streets, tirelessly retrieving their precious possessions. The prevailing sentiment is one of overwhelming concern, as everyone dreads the possibility of a devastating flood with water rising alarms in Yamuna.
The Yamuna River in Delhi has once again surpassed the danger mark (205.33) and is currently flowing at 205.45 m. Furthermore, there is a likelihood of heavy rainfall over the next 4-5 days. As a result, concerns of flooding have arisen among those residing in relief camps and those who have returned home. The individuals living in these camps are anxious about the potential loss of their remaining houses and belongings. Moreover, in areas where residents have returned home after the water receded, they are again faced with the apprehension of losing their homes to the floods.
Pinky, aged 45, has resided along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi for the past 15 years. However, during previous instances when the water level of the Yamuna rose, Pinky was compelled to evacuate his house. Currently, for the last 15 days, she has been residing within a government relief camp established beneath a semi-built flyover. Pinky describes her current situation by stating,
"We left the house hastily that day, leaving behind many of our belongings. Among them were the items like: the gas stove and the official documents."Advertisement
Increased risk of water-borne diseases
Apart from the concern over floods, the relentless sun and scorching heat have further compounded the hardships faced by the flood victims as they are forced to live in the open. While seated on a cot, Kalavati (65) displays her medicines and expresses that she was already unwell prior to the floods. And, now her condition has worsened due to the exposure. Numerous doctors from political parties and non-governmental organizations are providing medical assistance to the flood victims. According to medical professionals, the vulnerability to diseases has escalated substantially since the occurrence of the flood. Dr. Pritam Ahrawat asserts,
"After the flood, maximum patients are of allergy disorders and eye flu. The area is dirty, that has contributed to the rapid spread of these diseases. It is expected that these illnesses will to rise in the foreseeable future."Advertisement
In the Mayur Vihar area, where we were engaging with the community, numerous NGOs are diligently coordinating for food and medicine. However, as we move towards Mayur Vihar Extension, the situation takes a drastic turn. Here, flood victims are compelled to reside beneath the flyover, facing dire challenges of accessing basic necessities such as water and food. Additionally, their concerns are heightened by the escalating water levels of the Yamuna river. Sanjay, a resident of Chilla Khadar, laments that the limited support he receives solely comes from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Discussing the water issue, he expresses,
"Tanker water is delivered at 2 in the morning. Those who received it are fine, while those who didn't, they have to use tap water"Advertisement
He tells that the water flowing from the taps is contaminated, but he has not choice. Likewise, in reference to the children, Reshammavati says, 'Our children have been starving since morning. We have only managed to have breakfast, and if we have anything at night, we will eat it.'"
Livelihood drowned along with the farm
Some residents in Mayur Vihar Extension are farmers, including Sanjay who cultivates 4 bighas of land. Sanjay invested approximately Rs 30,000 to sow the kharif crop, but unfortunately, both his livelihood and farm were lost in the flood. Similarly, Reshamwati, another farmer in the area, suffered crop destruction on his 10 bighas of land due to the flood. Moreover, Sanjay owns two buffaloes, and he struggles to manage their daily feeding cost of around 200 rupees, considering the current difficult circumstances.
Compelled to return, the victims face more harm
While conversing with Sanjay and Reshammavati, we noticed a group of individuals loading their possessions onto a vehicle. Virendra, during his introduction, mentioned that he resided in Delhi with his family for the past 12 years. Once settled in Chilla Khadar, he cultivated 5 bighas of land. However, he said that the devastating flood has ruined everything he had built. He added,
“There is nothing to eat and no water to drink here. We can't let ourselves die in Delhi so I am going back with my family."
Virendra's wife shares, "Our house was washed away and the money we had invested in the field also got drowned. Now, with the remaining funds, we will return home to earn and sustain ourselves." Virendra adds that three to four people have already returned to their respective homes.
"We dread... the house would collapse"
Shahar Ali and his family have recently got back to the slum close to the crematorium in Sarai Kale Khan. Despite their efforts of working tirelessly for two days, the living and sleeping conditions in their makeshift home are just manageable. However, the entire house still remains disorganized and unclean.
"I have resided in this house since 2001, never I have encountered a situation where water inundated my home. However, this time the water level rose to a staggering one and a half meters, eventually submerging our entire house. We returned after the water receded," exclaimed Ali.
Ali manages the job of selling junk, but their livelihood has been severely impacted by the flood. He expresses his uncertainty about how he will rebuild everything from scratch.
The slum, nestled away from the main road, is plagued by an overwhelming amount of junk and filth that can be seen in every corner. Compounding the distressing living conditions, the unavailability of clean drinking water poses a significant challenge for the residents. Ali shares, "There used to be a water tanker that would come here, but it has been absent since July 9. Now, we are compelled to travel to a distant hand pump just to procure water." Consequently, every individual residing here must manually get approximately 10 liters of water daily, which further aggravate their hardships.
Jamila's house, like many others in the area, collapsed after being submerged in the flood. "We are left with no choice but to live outside, as no new houses are being built due to the uncertainty of the water returning," Jamila explains. Another resident, Bano, invites us to see her house but reveals that she is too afraid to return to it, fearing its potential collapse. "We cannot risk our lives by entering the house, as there is a constant fear that it might collapse," Bano expresses in broken Hindi, being a non-native Hindi speaker.
Mohammad Dilshad is deeply concerned about the alarming increase in the water level of Yamuna. He expresses his fear, stating, "If it doesn't happen today, it will inevitably happen tomorrow when the water engulfs our homes once again." Dilshad reveals that the water remains at a significant level not too far away. Consequently, numerous individuals, whose houses have already been submerged, are compelled to seek refuge in the Nangli school.
After visiting various areas of Delhi, we came to realize that the plight of flood victims who have been displaced from their homes and who have now returned remains unresolved. Both continue to face the critical issues of inadequate access to clean water and sufficient food. Additionally, the escalating water levels are causing significant anticipation of crisis among the affected communities.
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