54-year-old Asma and 12 other members of her family who live in Jamali Kunkta at Tolichowki in Hyderabad haven’t slept a wink all night on Friday. The family spent all night drawing out rainwater from their 500 square feet rented home. ”We moved in this August. The house has already flooded three times since September,” says a tired Asma. The heavy showers that began Friday evening flooded several parts of Hyderabad, and by noon on Saturday the flooding had subsided. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy rains in the state till October 13.
Asma’s rented home, like all houses, shops and establishments in the locality is built about 2 to 3 feet from the ground anticipating the annual Hyderabad floods. “But the water overflowed from the flood barrier and flooded the house. We took this house because the rent was low,” she says. Fathima, Asma's daughter in law, had to keep both her children on top of the cupboard to keep them safe. "We just finished cleaning the house,” she said. The family is economically weak and have lost many electrical appliances including a cooler and fan.
The street outside Asma's home is slippery with muck and a GHMC sanitation team opens the drains, removes the sludge and leaves them in the middle of the road. A feeble stream of rainwater washes over the sludge and it chokes the drains again. “Flooding is nothing new here. It has been flooding here from the early 2000s,” says Abbas, another resident of the colony. For hours, he had been trying to get his two-wheeler submerged in the floodwater to start working again. “When it rains, all the water from the Seven Tombs road about a kilometre away finds its way to our locality. It floods up to 3 feet here,” said Abbas.
The apartment building owned by Abbas is also built at a 2 feet height above ground level. “At the time we thought that height was enough. But now the water is reaching 3 feet height from the ground,” says Abbas who works as a real estate agent. The ground floor apartment floods every time, its residents are now contemplating vacating the premises after it flooded for the third time this year. Abbas had tried to highlight the issue to the corporator, the MLA and even tried to get social media attention. “I gave up, this is happening every year now and I know what to expect,” he adds, while trying to kickstart his bike.
The Seven Tombs road that leads into Jamali Kunta, Raghava colony, Vali colony, Aruna Colony, APHB colony and others gets inundated with rainwater every year. The footpaths in the locality are over 14 inches in height, for this reason, say, locals. Almost all shops, like the houses, are built at a height. Mohammad Shakir raised the floor height of his digital studio in 2018 for this reason, “I raised the height by 3 feet but even that's not enough, on Friday when vehicles moved on the road, the water formed waves and entered the store,” said Shakir.
Rajesh, a resident of APHB colony had set up his own paan shop this year on a bylane in Seven Tombs road using all his savings. He even bought a second-hand refrigerator to store cold beverages, “I didn't think the water would flow in like this,” said the entrepreneur. The second-hand refrigerator did not survive the flooding. "The water flowed from Seven Tombs road towards the drains that flowed into the Shah Hatim lake. This road acts as a drain to that drain,” he quips. Rajesh now plans to build a barrier before his shop to prevent the water from flowing into his shop which is at ground level.
Mohammad Ayyub, manning the Vijaya milk parlour next door to the studio on Friday used milk trays as a stand to protect the refrigerators used for storing milk. “I panicked when it started flooding. I put the shutter down but the water still entered," says the 62-year-old who started his job at the milk parlour in August this year. "It makes me nervous that a short circuit will fry the equipment and I will lose the job,” he adds.
As TNM left the residence of Asma and her family at Jamali Kunta at noon, the family was waiting for the floors to dry, and then to catch some sleep. On Saturday, as of evening, it hasn't rained yet in Hyderabad and many hope that it won't.