My Diwali in Chikkasugur - a village affected by flash floods

Written by Harsh Jegadeesan on 10:24 PM

In October this year, the water level in the Krishna river (the longest river in south-central India) rose to its 100-year high due to incessant rains. The resulting flash floods demolished villages and towns in Andhra and Karnataka washing away crops and cattle and rendering thousands homeless. Parts of North Karnataka that were suffering the worst draught were suddenly affected by these devastating floods in the same year.

All my life I've seen a lot of news, video footages and pictures of catastrophic damages caused by natural calamities. I've empathized, most often written a cheque and cribbed about govt. inaction and inadequate relief efforts and moved on.

This Diwali for the first time I saw it all live! Along with 8 other CLEAR PURPOSE (SAP's CSR team) volunteers I was in Chikkasugur, a village (not seen in Google maps, but existing) in North Karnataka and on the banks of river Krishna. Chikkasugur is a small hamlet with a population of 3000 people in the Raichur district, 14 KMs from Raichur.

Our goal was to assess the damages first-hand and decide how SAP could be involved in the rehabilitation efforts along with our field partner HOPE foundation. What I saw there was overwhelming and beyond my imagination. With houses reduced to rubbles, the villagers are living in makeshift accommodation, or in remaining parts of the houses. All the crops were damaged, leaving farmers penniless. The govt. has provided immediate cash relief with compensation between 2,000 - 12,000 based on the extent of damage. The govt. compensation is peanuts compared to the real losses. However, I am not blaming the govt. machinery. From what I heard, the govt. officers are doing their best and supporting locals and NGOs involved in relief efforts. I'd guess that the govt. has too much to handle and stretched too thin beyond their capabilities. Added to this, the village was strongly divided on lines of caste - hindus, muslims, the scheduled castes and tribes. Villagers were complaining of biases in distribution of compensation and were not willing to clear the rubble waiting for inspection from officials.

Under these circumstances, HOPE foundation was doing a commendable job. Prabhu Kumar (Sr. Director) and his team were working and still continue to work at a phenomenal speed to do all they can to put Chikkasugur back on its feet. I along with other volunteers was involved in talking to the villagers and conducting a survey to understand the extent of the damage and what we could do in a sustainable manner to help them. The immediate need was housing, followed closely by primary education and skills development to improve employability of the youth. Though we were met with initial skepticism, the villagers soon realized that we are genuinely and wholeheartedly trying to do our bit and helped us in every possible way. We also helped rebuild the village primary school. We replaced the roofs, cleaned the school premises, planted trees and were also successful in engaging the children in all these activities. SAP will now work with HOPE foundation to improve the primary and high schools in Chikkasugur. Also we'd like to start a skills training center to impart basic computer skills (DTP), spoken english and tailoring skills to the youth.

Looking at all the good work that a lot of NGOs, including HOPE foundation are doing - so selflessly, I wonder what a tiny drop I've been in this big ocean. However I am really happy being this small drop, after all small drops add to make a mighty ocean! If you are looking to help or donate, you can do it through HOPE foundation here.

  1. 6 comments: Responses to “ My Diwali in Chikkasugur - a village affected by flash floods ”

  2. By Harsh Jegadeesan on October 25, 2009 at 11:42 PM

    It has been a very different Diwali this year around. The festival of happiness and light has brought pain and grief to thousands of our fellow countrymen. The floods that swept through many districts in Karnataka and AP left very little to be celebrated this Diwali. The need of the hour is not only the financial aid to the affected people but more importantly the moral and humanitarian support from all of us.

    The visit to Chikkasugunur in this regard, was a very satisfying one for me, as I could do my bit for this noble cause. Moreover, it proved to be a journey in which we witnessed the might of nature and the helplessness of man in front of it. It was hard to imagine how the once so peaceful and calm river could raise to a mammoth 50 feet above ground level and rip apart the lives of so many people. Such natural calamities are not new to man, but still the moments of pain and agony it brings will always be new and very depressing. I pray to god to give the affected people the strength to overcome the loss this flood has brought them, especially the loss of lives.

    As the saying says... "If HE brings you to it.... HE brings you through it". So we just need to pray for a better tomorrow and in this particular time, we need to help the suffering ones to get through this situation in any way that we can.

    Puneeth Hoysal

  3. By Harsh Jegadeesan on October 25, 2009 at 11:45 PM

    The amount of damage a few days of heavy rain and an overflowing raging river can do to lives is unimaginable until you see the devastation caused by the recent floods in villages across North Karnataka.
    Recently when I along with eight other colleagues from SAP visited Chikkasugur, a flood affected village near Raichur, the real picture of what the villagers faced during the floods became clear.
    Homes damaged beyond recognition, standing crops and cattle washed away, and a school which turned into a relief camp for many. These are pictures that will stay with these people as well as me long after normalcy returns to this small hamlet.
    If left to themselves it will be years before which these villages can rebuild themselves to their past glory.All we can do is to try and hasten this process and lend a helping hand. Majority of the affected population are farmers, people who work round the clock to ensure that the rest of the country has enough food and we are in a sense indebted to them.This is our chance to pay back. This is our chance to stand by them and give them assurance that they are not alone in this time of need. This is the least we can do.

    Shubra Battacharya

  4. By Nadine on October 26, 2009 at 9:34 AM

    It is very encouraging to see the efforts of the volunteers. as you said it is only a drop in the ocean but a drop is better than nothing!
    Nadine Templer (HOPE Foundation)

  5. By Ramki on October 26, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    Good to see the first hand experience, Harsh. Thanks for sharing this. We all have been thinking of doing something but efforts from volunteers like you definitely motivate us to move from thinking to action.
    - Ramki

  6. By A J on October 26, 2009 at 10:56 AM

    Really good work done by you people for this Diwali. It is quite encouraging to see the effort put in.

  7. By Sahir on October 27, 2009 at 3:24 PM

    Dear visitor,

    I too was part of this team.
    During this visit - the villagers were murmuring
    "Evaru ein madtare?" - What will these guys do?

    Lets do our bit to help the people in need.

    Thanks.
    Sahir.