It’s been four days since Mirzapur is witnessing massive flooding due to the Ganga river flowing above the danger mark. The rising waters of the Ganges and the Karnavati rivers have cut-off over 400 villages in the district, as the affected villagers are reeling under food shortage and migrating in search of a safer ground.
Mallepur (Mirzapur), Uttar Pradesh
As far as the eye can see, there is several feet high water of the Ganges, with some tree-top peeking out of the floodwaters. A crowded wooden boat packed with people in wet clothes tears through the high velocity floodwater looking for a higher ground. Pucca (brick and mortar) houses are submerged in the river, mud houses washed away. A woman wails at a distance: “Sab Ganga ji main leen ho gaya” (everything has drowned in Ganga River).
Mallepur village in Mirzapur’s Kon block, situated on the banks of the Ganges, is facing one of its worst floods as heavy rainfall in the past few days has led to the swelling of the holy river which, at 4 pm today (August 11), was flowing at 78.25 metres level with a rising trend of one centimetre per hour, as informed by the district administration.
This is beyond the river’s danger level of 77.724 metres. Its highest flood level ever recorded was on September 9, 1978 at 80.34 metres. Watching the river rise in fury, local villagers fear Ma Ganga (Mother Ganges) may breach its previous highest flood level. The rains have not yet stopped.
Carrying the essential belongings of his household in a jute bag on his head, 25-year-old Sunil Kumar Yadav waded through almost waist-deep floodwater in his village Mallepur, which is situated 10 kilometres from the district magistrate’s office. Behind him walked his fellow villagers — men and women, carrying kids on their shoulders — in a serpentine queue, holding hands, lest they get swept away by the floodwaters.
It was four days back, on August 7, that the swollen Ganga entered their village and ever since then houses, school building, crematorium, farmlands, stored foodgrains — almost everything in Mallepur is submerged under water and the river seems in no mood to recede.
“There are 15 people in my house. Our entire stock of wheat flour and rice is spoilt by the flood water. I can’t fathom what to do in such a situation, we were not prepared for this situation nor was there any warning by the administration,” the 25-year-old low-spirited youngster told Gaon Connection. Sunil Kumar Yadav went on to add that the entire crops in his village were destroyed. We have had a loss of eighty thousand rupees in farming. There’s no fodder for cattle as well,” he lamented.
Of its total 75 districts, 21 districts in Uttar Pradesh are facing floods with at least 800,000 people affected. Houses have collapsed and farmlands inundated as several rivers across the state are carrying excess water due to very heavy monsoon rainfall.
Situation in Mirzapur district is critical as it is facing floods due to two rivers — Ganga and Karnavati. “A total of 406 villages are affected due to floods in Mirzapur. Of these, 222 villages are in Sadar tehsil and 184 villages are in Chunar tehsil,” informed U P Singh, additional district officer, Mirzapur. Mallepur is situated in Sadar tehsil. “The district administration has pressed into service 120 boats for rescue and transportation purposes,” the official added.
It is estimated that almost 4,000 hectares of agricultural land in Mirzapur has been submerged due to flooding. The district administration has set up 26 rehabilitation centres for people and 17 animal shelters in Chunar tehsil for the cattle displaced due to floods.
Meanwhile, across the state, the authorities in Uttar Pradesh have set up almost 880 relief camps to provide shelter to the needy and at least nine lives have been lost due to the disaster so far.
However, villagers claim they have not received any help from the district administration. “The only help we have is from the neighbours living in slightly higher areas. They are allowing us to live with them for now and are providing food to eat. The administration is nowhere to be seen,” complained Sunil Kumar Yadav of Mallepur whom Gaon Connection met yesterday (August 10).
The village head of Mallepur, 35-year-old Yogesh Prasad Yadav, told Gaon Connection that almost a thousand people in his village have suffered losses due to the floods.
“Most of the farmers here cultivate vegetables. Their fields have been overrun by the floods and the crops are rotting in water, the gaon pradhan said. “Most of the people in the village have left their homes and are at present living in makeshift arrangements in higher areas. People are helping each other to overcome the crisis. Boats have been arranged by the administration but there’s no other assistance,” Yadav said.
There are complaints of shortage of food as well. “People don’t have much to eat. If they come to my place, I offer them things to eat but that’s not enough for the entire population. The officials came here and asked the villagers to take precautions and move towards higher areas. There’s no power supply here and the kerosene oil has also been exhausted by now. We are plunged into darkness,” the village head added.
Today on August 11, Gaon Connection travelled to the neighbouring village of Harsinghpur, about eight kilometres from Mallepur. The village is marooned and the only way to reach there is by boat. The entire village with a population of almost a thousand people was flooded with chest-deep water. With their meagre belongings loaded on their heads, villagers were wading through floodwater looking for a safer place.
Tara, a middle aged woman from the Harsinghpur told Gaon Connection that she has nowhere to go despite the dangerous levels of water having entered her village.
“Nobody has come here from the administration. It feels like we are left to die here. I am waiting for the water to recede, what else shall I do,” she said.
Yesterday, on August 10, Gaon Connection reported on the floods in the Auraiya district wherein the villagers as old as 60 years of age told that they had never seen such damage from the floods ever before.
The state administration has blamed the floods on the excess rainfall in parts of Uttar Pradesh and the neighbouring Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. According to the India Meteorological Department, from July 29 to August 4, Uttar Pradesh recorded an excess rainfall of 36 per cent.
Following the aerial survey of the affected areas in Auraiya and Etawah districts, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held a meeting with the officials at the district collectorate auditorium in Auraiya on August 9 where he announced a financial compensation of Rs 400,000 for the kin of those who died in the floods.
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. These numbers of flood-hit districts and villages have now increased in the past three days.
“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,” the CM said during a flood review meeting held in Lucknow on August 8.
Meanwhile, people in Mirzapur’s flood-affected villages are facing acute food shortage and their power supply has also been snapped. Pramod, a youngster from the Mallapur village, told Gaon Connection (at 3 pm on August 10) that laayi (puffed rice) was all he had eaten since morning.
Surrounded by waist-deep water on all sides, he said, “Dar lag raha lekin jaayen kahan, raat tak paani ka star aur badh sakta hai lekin, teen din se yehin phase hue hain paani me, prashaasan ki madad kahin hai hi nahin.” (It’s scary to be surrounded by water like this. But where shall I go, I have no other place to be. The water may rise at night but we’ll have to face it as there seems to be no help from the officials)