Millennium Post

Locals struggle for food, shelter in flood-hit U’khand

People living in the villages of flood-ravaged Uttarakhand are now left with the daunting task of rebuilding their damaged houses and coping with depleting rations.

‘We have supplies left for just three or four more days. The problem is that the village is completely cut off. There was a bridge which connected us with Guptkashi, but it was washed away. So have the roads and there is no proper route left. I had to walk for more than 22km to reach Guptkashi,’ said Surendra Singh, the gram pradhan of Chaumasi village.

Chaumasi village, with a population of about 600, is above Kalimath, on one of the slopes overlooking the Mandakini here.

Singh had come to Guptkashi along with other village pradhans to request the district administration for food supplies among other things.  The requirements included supply of tents and tarpaulin to arrange for shelter for the members of those household whose dwellings were damaged in the torrential rains. ‘We have 12 people missing from our village; all men, nine of them married. The rest were teenagers. All used to work in Kedarnath during the tourist season,’ Singh added.  Lack of electricity, proper drinking water and food supply are some of the major problems faced by people trying to rehabilitate themselves in the nearby villages.

‘We have been without electricity since 15 June, when the first spell of heavy rains began. We are caught in a vicious circle of troubles. To get help we need to contact the administration, but that is not possible as without electricity no cellphones can be charged,’ Pradhan of Jalmalla village, Trilok Singh Rawat said.  ‘To get food, we need a supply line and roads which are functional. But all roads, including to foot trails are destroyed,’ Rawat added.  ‘We have come here to request district officials to reach supplies to our village. We are out of food, oil and safe drinking water,’ he lamented.

Farm produce is becoming scarce in Guptkashi as well. Constant rains have made it difficult for supplies to be brought up from Dehradun.

‘Even locally grown potatoes are now selling for Rs 30/kg in Guptkashi. And we are only getting a few vegetables. There will be tough days ahead,’ said Mahesh Semwal, a trader in Guptakshi.

Rawat said that one helicopter had yesterday landed close to his village and left some supplies.

‘But we are not looking at some days or even a few weeks; we are talking months here, some two or three months. The crisis is so comprehensive we don’t know where to begin,’ Rawat said.

There are 17 people from his village who are missing.

There is no hope of them ever returning again, Rawat added.


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