Over 100,000 people in 466 villages across 21 districts in Uttar Pradesh are affected by ‘unprecedented’ floods in the state. The destruction in pachnada, the site of the confluence of five rivers, in Auraiya district is unnerving. Gaon Connection travelled to marooned villages to find collapsed houses and displaced people living under tarpaulin, facing shortage of food and safe drinking water.
Juhikha (Auraiya), Uttar Pradesh
Virendra Senger has been living in Juhikha village in Auraiya district for the past 60 years — ever since his birth. Half a kilometre away from his house is pachnada, the site of the confluence of five rivers — Yamuna, Chambal, Sindh, Pahuj and Kwari.
All the five rivers are in spate due to the heavy rainfall in the region. Senger’s village is marooned and residents displaced due to the massive floods that have hit Uttar Pradesh.
On the night of August 4-5, as the villagers slept, flood water from pachnada made inroads into the Juhikha village catching the residents unaware. Grabbing their kids, villagers rushed out of their homes looking for a higher ground.
“Aisa nuksaan humne baadh ki wajah se kabhi nahin dekha apne gaon me,” Senger told Gaon Connection. (I haven’t seen such damage due to flood in my village all my life)
Seventy-year-old Shiv Mohan Singh, another resident of Juhikha said: “Ghar ka bhi nuksaan hua, fasal ka bhi nuksaan hua aur jaanwaron ka bhi nuksaan hua, itna kabhi nahin hua.” (The crops, the cattle and our house have all been damaged due to the floods).
Auraiya district, situated at a distance of 180 kms from the state capital Lucknow, is facing the worst brunt of the floods in the state caused due to very heavy rainfall in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in the past 10-12 days.
It is reported that as many as 466 villages across 21 districts, with at least 104,704 people have been affected by the floods in Uttar Pradesh. Flooding and heavy rain has reportedly destroyed 274 houses with severe damage reported from 722 houses. Authorities have set up almost 880 relief camps to provide shelter to the needy and at least nine lives have been reportedly lost due to the disaster.
According to the Auraiya district administration, as many as 24 villages in the district are affected by the floods. Houses have collapsed, crops washed away, farmlands inundated, stored food grains spoilt and cattle killed too.
At a distance of three kilometers from Juhikha, Khodan village in Auraiya is in a similar situation. Gaon Connection found villagers organising community kitchens on dry patches of land and the food being prepared for hundreds of people with the collective effort of the villagers. They complained no help had come from the state government so far.
Middle-aged Sunita Devi was one of the villagers busy with frying pooris (Indian fried flat bread). She told Gaon Connection that her entire stock of grains for the year had been damaged due to the flood water that entered the village so quickly that it gave no time for the villagers to care for their belongings. Most people just ran to save their lives.
“There’s waist-deep water in my home. I lost 30 quintals (3,000 kilograms) of grains (wheat and rice) in the flood. The entire stock, which was kept for the year, is now lying rotting,” Sunita Devi told Gaon Connection. “Fridge, cooler, TV, all got spoiled. The sari that I am wearing right now is the only piece of cloth I am left with. I don’t even have food to give to my children,” she said as her voice choked.
The villagers have been living on the higher terrain under black tarpaulin sheets for more than five days now. Many of them have nowhere to go as their houses have collapsed due to the gushing flood water.
“There have been floods here in 1996, 2016 and 2019 but nothing can be compared to the mayhem caused this time,” Shiv Mohan Singh told Gaon Connection.
The damage caused by floods is far greater in the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is reported that at least 80 people have died and 55 have been injured due to floods in Rajasthan while 24 people have lost their lives in Madhya Pradesh.
According to India Meteorological Department, from July 29 to August 4, Uttar Pradesh recorded an excess rainfall of 36 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 52 per cent while Rajasthan witnessed a whopping 168 per cent of above-normal precipitation in the same time period.
The flood situation in Madhya Pradesh is primarily due to the overflow in the Sindh river.
It is not only the five rivers in Auraiya that are in spate, districts along the flow of major rivers like Prayagraj, Farrukhabad, Mirzapur, Varanasi and even Bihar’s capital Patna are all witnessing waterlogging and flood-like situation in the low-lying areas.
At Auraiya, on the night of August 6, the bridge that connects Juhikha village with the neighbouring Jalaun district was hit by another pontoon bridge. Villagers informed that the 52 metal containers of the broken bridge collided with the concrete bridge due to heavy flow of water.
Luckily, a major disaster was prevented as the bridge could withstand the impact. In similar events, the Sindh river has destroyed almost six bridges in Madhya Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath surveyed the flood affected areas in Auraiya and Etawah yesterday on August 9 and assured every possible help to the affected population.
Following the aerial survey, the chief minister held a meeting with the district officials at the district collectorate auditorium in Auraiya. Adityanath announced a financial compensation of Rs 400,000 for the kin of those who died in the floods.
The chief minister stated that the unprecedented floods have hit the district due to heavy downpour in the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Also, during a flood review meeting held in Lucknow on August 8, CM Adityanath informed that in the 15 flood-affected districts in the state, a total of 257 villages were reporting floods.
“A total of 39 teams of personnel from the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force), SDRF (State Disaster Response Force), PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) have been mobilised to carry out relief measures. Also, 828 flood rehabilitation centres have been set up and 976 flood posts have been established. A total of 1,133 boats are operational to rescue people and 7,015 ration kits and 28,028 lunch packets have been distributed amongst the displaced villagers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jay Narayan Singh, a village leader who organised food for the helpless population stated that there hasn’t been any help from the administration in the past three-four days.