When flood waters rose in Hyderabad following incessant rains, Nadeem Colony in Toli Chowki was one of the first places to report very high levels of water. People on the ground floor climbed up to the first and second floor to escape from the rising levels of water. When TNM visited the location on October 14, the day the rains first wreaked havoc, a man was desperately trying to reach officials to request for a boat. He had come from Malakpet, to rescue his aged in-laws who were stranded due to the inundation. He tried calling up the helpline numbers, and the local representatives to ask for a boat to shift his in-laws. There were no boats available in close proximity.
People in affected areas and those involved in rescue activities say this was the situation in many areas that saw high water levels. Naseer Giyas, a journalist and a researcher who has been closely monitoring the situation and aiding in rescue efforts said that there is an acute shortage of boats for rescue operations. He took to Twitter to question the number of boats being used in rescue operations.
More than 20000 houses affected due to inundation, GHMC and DRF force using only six boats? Sir @KTRTRS @arvindkumar_ias kindly increase the number of boats, six is not sufficient. pic.twitter.com/b0HqumnpfVâ€” Naseer Giyas (@NaseerGiyas) October 14, 2020
â€śAl Jubail Colony and Ali Nager and Gazi-e-Millat colony more than 1000 houses were there but only two pedal boats were deployed. We donâ€™t have a sufficient number of boats, MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi arranged for 10 private JCBs for help with the evacuation of people. Locals were using the JSBs to rescue people and evacuate them,â€ť said Naseer Giyas.
According to the Director of Enforcement, Vigilance and Disaster Management, in the last six days more than 2500 people have been rescued by the Disaster Response Force teams in flood-affected areas. The team has six boats which have been deployed in rescue work since October 13.
Amjad Ullah Khan, Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) leader recalled how there was only one boat in Moosanagar when thousands of families had to be evacuated after heavy rains flooded the entire locality. He said, â€śOne boat that was manually operated was used in Moosanagar when people had to be evacuated. Moosanagar has around 4000-5000 families. The boat wasnâ€™t even a motor boat, it had to be manually rowed.â€ť
â€śAnother cause of concern is that the Disaster Response Force teams did not have women in their teams to be part of the rescue operation. Firstly, no boats were made available for the people and the only boat that was there did not have women staff to aid the rescue processâ€ť, added Amjad Ullah Khan. He also added that repeated requests for boats were ignored by the concerned officials.
While addressing the media, Minister KT Rama Rao revealed that the state is in the process of procuring more boats from neighbouring states. He said, â€śThe GHMC has 18 boats in total. The Chief Secretary has spoken to the Chief Secretaries of the neighbouring states. Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have agreed to send around 15 boats each. More boats are being brought. We will have around 50 boats in total once they are all brought in. The Army and the NDRF have been alerted. Helicopters have also been asked to be on standby. The government is on high alert.â€ť
The Minister also revealed that more than 37,000 people were evacuated from the various flood-affected areas in the GHMC limits as of Monday. Seventy people in the state have lost their lives in various incidents due to the heavy rains that lashed the state in the last one week.