A dark Diwali for Karnataka’s flood victims

October 17th, 2009 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 17 (IANS) Almost a month back, six-year-old Veena Sundar had an elaborate plan to celebrate Diwali. Today, with no proper roof over her head and surviving on gruel, the festival of lights is a day of gloom for Sundar and hundreds of children like her.
They are victims of the Sep 30-Oct 2 rains and flash floods in north Karnataka, which killed over 220 people, damaged or completely destroyed over 350,000 houses leaving more than a million homeless.

Sundar’s home at Hiremagi village in Bagalkot district, around 480 km from Bangalore, was washed away.

“I always celebrate Diwali with great gusto. This time it’s different. Floods have left our home destroyed. We are forced to stay under a tarpaulin sheet,” sobbed Veena, as she narrated her story to reporters.

Echoing similar sentiments, Arun P., a 50-year-old farmer of Goanwar village in Gulbarga district, around 600 km from here, said with home and livelihood washed away, Diwali means nothing.

“We’ve been stuck by tragedy. Diwali means nothing to us. We need food and shelter. Moreover, all my crops have been washed away. I have lost my livelihood,” said a distraught Arun.

Like Sundar and Arun, around 500,000 people are staying in 1,560 relief camps set up by the government.

“What is Diwali for us? We are engulfed in darkness. With no homes of our own, we are staying in relief camps. Our lives have been completely ruined,” said Ravendra, 56, of Hatcholli village in Bellary district, around 300 km from here.

Ravendra’s wife Parvati said: “We’ve lost everything in floods. Our homes have been destroyed and my husband’s little grocery shop too has been washed away in floods. It’s a dark Diwali for us.”

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