JANJGIR-CHAMPA: ‘Jal hi jeevanhai’ (Water is life)- this is an old Hindi saying which we have heard many times but when water becomes the cause of our troubles then what do we do or say?
This is a constant question being asked by those thousands of people who suffer from the outbreak of floods. In the past, floods in many parts of the country have caused huge devastation. From Bihar to the country's financial capital Mumbai, people have had to suffer a lot due to floods every year.
It is worth noting that after the occurrence of natural calamities in the big cities relief work is done on a large scale but there are some areas and smaller towns and villages where relief work takes a long time or does not happen at all.
The situation of village Manjarkud, located about 80 km from Chhattisgarh's district JanjgirChampa and approx. 200 kms from the state capital Raipur, is no different from other places where widespread havoc is caused due to floods.
According to the 2011 census, the total population of this village is 753. Spread over 911.72 acres, this village is an island in the middle of the Mahanadi river.
Fifty-two-year-old Jiralal Mali from Manjarkudsays, "In our village, people have to struggle in the rainy days. Our village is surrounded by the Mahanadi, due to which the water starts filling the streets of the village and enters into the courtyards of the houses. The housesbegin to collapse; people shout and scream, running here and there trying to save their lives and the lives of their loved ones. We have to face extreme suffering. Then we have to make an appeal to the government to help in saving our lives. But the relief rescue team is so laid back that it takes a lot of time for them to come. We are forced to either climbup on tall trees or take refuge in the village community hall so that we can live at least till the rescue team arrives."
According to 60-year-old Buntyram Mali, "Naturally, the land of our village is very fertile, which is a great gift for us, but due to the floods there is continuous erosion of soil. Due to soil erosion, many acres of land flowsaway with the water. Due to which the island is getting reduced every year and our yield is declining drastically. Even though the government knows everything, no attention is being given to it. Due to land degradation, the cultivation of vegetables is also decreasing and people go to work in the brick kilns in other states for their livelihood. There, they have to face extreme suffering; people want to cordon off the village with stones to prevent land erosion."
ChavviLala Mali, 40, says, "More than half the land of our village Manjarkudbelongs to the people of Gram Panchayat Kansa, therefore half of the total benefits of the crop cultivated has to be given to them. In such a situation, the families of our village have to cope with hardships. For this reason, most of the people of the village leave their children with the other families and go to work every year in the brick kilns in other states."
DudhiyanBai, 60, said, "The rescue team personnel definitely come to save us during the flood but after a lot of losses. We are given food and drinking water, but we do not get any compensation for the damage."
Lakshmi Yadav, 18, says, "Our village is unable to prosper due to the floods. People migrate from the village because they need to earn a living. There are neither students nor teachers in the village although there are a lot of schools. Due to the condition of the village, no one wants to teach here. Children also do not have much interest in studies. I try to teach the small children of the village. In future, I want to study more and I want to become a teacher in my village so that my village can become an educated and ideal village."
It is clear from the words of the people that how the effect of floods each year is taking away any form of development from the village. The Chhattisgarh government which prides itself as being one of the fastest developing states in the country needs to prioritize the development of this village by protecting it from natural calamitiesand ensuring that the villagers don’t have to go out to earn a living.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the above article are that of Umrendra Sagar of Charkha Features