BENGALURU: An Indian American woman living with her two teenaged daughters in Bengaluru had to seek assistance from the US Consulate in Chennai which in turn got in touch with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to pump out rain water that had flooded her house in HSR Layout.
Frustrated by the tepid response from the local authorities, Meena Gupta is now seriously contemplating going back to the US.
The flooding of her house occurred on September 27 when Bengaluru received heavy rain. Meena resides in Sector 6 of HSR Layout. As the water kept rising, she tried to contact local officials and elected reps but none of them responded to her calls for help.
Meena then called the US Consulate in Chennai, who got in touch with PMO. After that, the National Disaster Response Force alerted the State Disaster Response Team.
As the SDRF could not immediately pump out water as the whole locality was flooded, they shifted Meena and her daughters to a nearby hotel.
That is not the first time their house has been flooded, said Meena. "Since August 15 this year, our house has been flooded six times," she recalled.
On September 27, their area received 50 mm of rainfall. "I tried to reach local MLA Satish Reddy, MP Ananth Kumar, Joint Commissioner and Commissioner of BBMP, as the water level went on rising. Finally, the joint commissioner called back at 5.30 pm and said 'let me see'. This was the response to people in distress in the city. Fearing danger to our lives, I called the US Consulate,'' Meena said.
Meena, who runs an NGO called Let's Do Some Good Foundation that educates underprivileged children, is now thinking of returning to the US along with her two teenaged daughters who are 11th-grade students in an international school in the city.
"We Indian American women came to India with the dream of giving something back to our country, after being inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech on initiatives like Make in India, Digital India, Swachch Bharat and brain drain. We quit jobs in prestigious firms in the US and returned to India seeking to realise these dreams but they have turned out to be false. It's a shame that one has to raise a hue and cry when in distress. What the Centre is talking about is not reflecting in the states," said 46-year-old Meena Gupta, who did her MS in Engineering from the US.
Meena said she incurred a loss of Rs 5 lakh as her office in the cellar was flooded. This apart, she spent Rs 15,000-20,000 to pump out water from the cellar and for scrubbing the walls and disinfecting the house after every flood.
"This is not just my plight. About 400 families in 5th and 6th Sectors of HSR Layout face the same situation. Not even a health inspector is visiting to take steps to prevent diseases due to mosquito breeding. The house may be strong if the foundation is strong. How else can the building withstand flood after flood?" she asked.
She said she brought her daughters to India to study and also to know their roots. "Now we plan to go back to the US where my husband, a software engineer, is settled. Some other Indian American friends who came to India with an intention of giving something back to the country have already left, seeing the
poor infrastructure, corruption and lack of professionalism among officials," said Meena, adding that many IT firms shifted their base to Hyderabad from Bengaluru for the same reason.