RANCHI: "Not working on Sundays saved our lives. Otherwise, all of us would have died," says Jainath Singh. He is one of the 10 daily-wage labourers from Jharkhand's Latehar district who survived the Uttarakhand flood tragedy.
All 10 working on the NTPC project site returned home on Friday. They were dropped at Haridwar by a bus arranged by the contractor they were working for. The rest of the journey was on train without a ticket. At least 14 more from Jharkhand working in Chamoli are still missing.
"We were playing cards outside our rooms. Suddenly, we heard people screaming. We gathered at a place and saw a 40-metre wall of water approaching and taking everything along with it. We started climbing uphill, leaving everything behind. Because it was a Sunday, we were relaxing at the makeshift camp set up for labourers," Jainath recalls.
In Jharkhand, people do not work on Sundays. Not all around them were that fortunate. "About 4-5 workers from Bihar were sleeping inside and didn't take it seriously when they were told to run. They got washed away in the flood," says Jainath.
It was only a few days that Jainath & Co worked at the ill-fated site. They had reached Chamoli around two weeks ago and were in quarantine before reporting for work. "We worked for just 4-5 days before disaster struck," says Jainath.