No home, no hearth, Karnataka flood victims flock to cities

October 23rd, 2009 - 11:55 am ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 23 (IANS) Forty-year-old widow Susheela P. had to bid goodbye to her native Chintamandoddi village and travel a distance of around 450 km to Bangalore to find a job and feed her two children. The floods in Karnataka left her with no choice.
“My home has been completely destroyed. I lost crops in my field due to the floods. I have no other option but to find a job for myself in Bangalore to feed my two sons and rebuild my home,” Susheela told IANS, holding back her tears while working at a construction site here.

Susheela, who is from Raichur district, is among scores of victims affected by the flash floods that struck north Karnataka in late September and early October.

“During our relief and rehabilitation work in the flood-affected areas of north Karnataka, we have found a large number of flood victims without homes and destroyed crops leaving their villages in search of a livelihood,” Kshithij Urs, regional manager of ActionAid, an international NGO in Bangalore, told IANS.

“We call it distress or forced migration, where a large number of people from a particular area are forced to leave their home and hearth to find their livelihood,” added Urs.

According to an estimate of ActionAid, around 1.5 million flood victims are suffering from hunger and food scarcity following the floods.

“Flood victims are facing several problems, including destruction of their homes and crops in recent floods. Food scarcity among women and children are immense in flood-affected villages. In fact, the floods threatened the very livelihood of the people,” said Smitha Anand, Bangalore coordinator of Goonj, an NGO working for flood-affected people.

“These affected people have no other option but to leave their villages in search of earning their livelihood,” added Anand.

According to NGOs, flood victims are also migrating to the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

An estimated 18 million people have been affected by the floods in 18 of Karnataka’s 29 districts. Three days of torrential rain, accompanied by floods, beginning Sep 30, left around 220 people dead in the state.

Migration is most apparent in the worst flood-affected areas like Raichur, Bagalkot and Bijapur districts, say NGOs.

The Karnataka government maintains that adequate relief and rehabilitation measures are being given in flood-hit areas.

“We’re ensuring quick relief measures for flood victims. Along with distribution of food and cloth material, houses are also being built for homeless flood victims. The migration of people is just a fear and we’re going all the way to rehabilitate flood victims,” Home Minister V.S. Acharya told reporters earlier.

However, assurances from the state government seems to bring no cheer to distraught flood victims like Sridhar, 30, of Hatcholli village in Bellary district, around 300 km from Bangalore.

“I have been working as a daily wage earner in Bangalore for almost a week now. I have not received any kind of help from the government. There is no work in the fields after crops are destroyed. So I have come here to work and earn some money,” said Sridhar.

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