With their houses washed away, grains spoiled, belongings scattered, and knee-deep muck spread all over the village, residents of Khaira Shyampura village in Bhind do not know from where to pick up pieces of their lives scattered and shattered by the floods. They are facing acute shortage of food and safe drinking water.
Khaira Shyampura (Bhind), Madhya Pradesh
A rotting odour is the first sensation that greets visitors as they enter the flood-battered Khaira Shyampura village in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind district. It’s been a couple of days and the local villagers have got used to the putrefying smell in their village, pulverised by the recent massive floods in the state that have marooned over 1,200 villages.
In Khaira Shyampura, it is hard to find even a single house whose brick and cement walls have withstood the high velocity floodwaters of Sindh river that has ravaged the village. Almost all the houses in the village have collapsed like a pack of cards. There is chaos and destruction everywhere and thick rubble, mixed with sticky mud, makes it impossible to walk around in the village. Soiled torn clothes, disfigured utensils, and other personal belongings of the villagers lie on the ground, some hang from the trees showing the level to which the floodwater rose in the village.
Traumatised by the destruction, 48-year-old Shanti Devi, a resident of Khaira Shyampura, told Gaon Connection that she had not eaten anything for the past two days. Gaon Connection visited the flood-hit village on August 8 .
Shanti’s neighbour, 46-year-old Bal Kumari spoke, with tears rolling down her cheeks, “We lost almost everything in the flood, the kids are hungry at home, we don’t have anything to feed them. The grain is spoiled and rotting. I cannot think of what to do next”.
Bal Kumari informed Gaon Connection that the water from Sindh river entered the village with such gushing speed that the villagers had no time to protect their belongings and quickly ran to higher altitudes to save their lives.
“I had three buffaloes and two of them have been swept away by the flood. We were all sleeping at night (August 3) when the water entered the village,” she said.
Metres away from her house, 65-year-old Rammurti Devi has a similar experience to share.
“My old husband is sick and bed-ridden, only me and my two daughter-in-laws were there when the flood struck. All our grain, cattle got swept away,” Rammurti narrated. “My husband asked me not to attempt to save what was getting swept away as it could have been deadly. He told me that everything will be earned back only if we are left alive to earn,” she added, as she wiped her eyes with the pallu of her wet sari, the only piece of clothing she was left with.
The destruction caused by the Sindh river, a tributary of Yamuna that flows through Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, has affected as many as 50 villages in Bhind district alone. Overall, more than 1,200 villages across Madhya Pradesh are affected by the floods.
The floods in central India — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and southern parts of Uttar Pradesh — have been caused by heavy rainfall which resulted in overflowing rivers and dams.
According to the India Meteorological Department, between August 1 and August 9, Madhya Pradesh has recorded an excess rainfall of 31 per cent while the neighbouring Rajasthan received 110 per cent excess rainfall.
Apart from Bhind, the districts in Madhya Pradesh that have been severely affected by the floods include Datiya, Shyopur, Gwalior, Shivpuri, Morena, and Ashok Nagar. Roads and bridges have been damaged in these districts paralysing the transport along with supplies of relief material.
Narendra Singh Kushwaha, former Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Bhind, told Gaon Connection that the district had not witnessed such massive floods in the past 50 years.
“Bhind district is situated between the flow of Sindh and Chambal rivers and is prone to flooding but such destruction has not been seen in at least 50 years. Nobody can do much in these conditions as it is a natural disaster,” Kushwaha told Gaon Connection. “People have lost their cattle, houses have been destroyed and there’s nothing left for the cattle to eat. The losses are heavy but the government will soon compensate for it,” he said.
The panchayat head of the Khaira Shyampura, Lal Singh Baghel told Gaon Connection that the two villages have a total population of 1,800 persons. “In Shyampura, there were 50-60 families and they are left with nothing to survive with,” Baghel said.
The panchayat head also informed that the residents had returned to their households on August 8 after living in tarpaulin shelters in the higher areas for almost four days. But, upon their return, all they found in the village was destruction. “The entire village was submerged under flood water for three to four days. Everything has rotten. There’s muck all around,” he added.
Meanwhile, 55-year-old Ashok Singh Rajawat said that his house had been badly damaged by the flood and it was unsafe to live in it anymore.
“Major portions of my house have been swept away, the grains have all spoiled, the bajra (millet) stock has worms in it. Even the mustard seeds we kept have sprouted and they are of no use now,” Rajawat told Gaon Connection.
“Sixteen hundred kilograms of wheat and fifteen hundred kilograms of bajra, and all my mustard harvest is spoiled. The clothes that I am wearing at present are the only property I am left with,” said Rajawat.
After witnessing the fury of the flood water, Khaira Shyampura villagers are now reeling under water shortage as the electricity supply has been cut and the water pipes from the submersible pumps are broken. The villagers have to get the water from a hand pump which is a kilometre away from the village.
The villagers haven’t bathed for six days. There is a severe shortage of food and safe drinking water.
“I accept that there are certain villages where food supplies could not be sent due to the condition of the roads. Even the boats and steamers are not able to access some of the villages. We have sent helicopters to such locations but there are many areas that are yet to be accessed,” State Minister for Urban Development and Housing OPS Bhadoria, who was surveying villages in the Khaira Shyampura village, told Gaon Connection on August 8.
Announcing a slew of measures to provide relief to the people suffering in the aftermath of the disastrous floods, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has formed a task force comprising 12 cabinet ministers to look after the relief work in the state.
In a statement issued on August 8, Chouhan also said that the families of those who died in the floods will be given financial assistance of Rs 400,000 each.
“I have formed a task force, comprising 12 cabinet ministers and officials of all important departments. I myself, and the team of ministers and officials will oversee the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work,” the CM was quoted as saying.
In addition to the regular ration given to beneficiaries, an additional 50 kgs of food grains will be given to the flood-hit families, he announced.
“Wherever possible, we will provide wheat flour to such families so that they can arrange for their food immediately. Besides, Rs 6,000 was being given immediately to families who lost their houses so that they can stay in rented accommodations,” the CM was quoted.
It is reported that after a survey, the state government will also provide assistance to those who have lost their household items.