Spend a day to know our problems: Karnataka flood victims

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Even as campaigning picks up pace with candidates and their supporters going door to door to garner votes, victims of the 2005 floods staying at the temporary relief centre here have threatened to either boycott the Lok Sabha elections on April 17 or use the NOTA (none of the above) option on EVMs.

As many as 92 families living in the centre are fed up. They have been waiting nearly 10 years for authorities to provide a proper rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) package. The families are from Raderatti, Naganur P.K. and Satti villages in Athani taluk.

Following the floods, which had a devastating effect, the government opened dozens of temporary relief centres and arranged for food, water and medicines.

Subsequently, it announced R&R works in all affected villages and hamlets. Many philanthropic institutions and industrial and trading establishments joined hands to build and distribute small houses to the affected families. However, none of these families were allotted houses.

Sharing his woes, Balappa Rajappa Kamble (47) said: “Bureaucrats, MLAs and MPs should spend a day outside their air-conditioned offices/houses and cars in these tin sheds. Only then will they realise how pathetic our lives are here.”

Their demands

The families, most of them Dalit, have been demanding small, pucca houses, proper drinking water and power supply. Some of the families own minor land holdings of 4 to 5 guntas (which have become non-cultivable owing to flooding for long periods), while others work as agricultural labourers. The children go to the government school in the village. All the families own ration cards and get foodgrains from the PDS shops in their respective villages.

‘Our lives are hell’

Sixty-year-old Susheela Dundappa Kamble is angry and frustrated. She said, “Many [officials] have come here during the last nine years. But, they have made our lives hell. We can neither live neither here nor can we return to our own homes. Should we die in this no man’s land? Can’t the government provide us just one small, pucca house?”

Athani tahsildar Aparna Pavate, who is preoccupied with election work, admitted to improper implementation of R&R works.

She told The Hindu that the government had distributed compensation to the flood victims. She said that because it was decided to implement R&R works for these families, they could not be extended the benefit of any housing scheme. However, under R&R works, the government had provided them a safe place, although with temporary sheds and borewells. The remaining, they have to manage on their own, she added.


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