Dogs nibbling on mounds of trash, waterlogged houses, a stream of faeces and a foul stench — visit this slum in Munnekolala of Bengaluru’s Bellandur, and this is the scene that welcomes you. With the incessant rains over the past few days having hit them especially hard, most of the residents in the slum are stranded in their inundated homes with no access to food, water or electricity, drenched in dirty water that has come up to their knees. Some had been spending day and night propped up against the garbage that had piled up in front of their flooded houses, forced to walk for miles in search of clean water.
TNM visited Munnekolala on September 5, Monday, and after speaking to several people who initially denied the existence of slums in the area, we found out that a slum nearby was flooded as a result of the torrential nighttime rain, driving residents out of their houses. While the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the civil defence squad have been taking steps to address the water mayhem in the city’s tech corridor and upmarket layouts located on Rajakaluves, no one has so far come to the aid of the slum dwellers, almost all of them daily wage labourers.
“Flooding and persistent rain are destroying our homes. Floodwater rises up to our beds at times. These frequent flash floods cause a lot of harm to us. In addition, we also lack access to drinkable water now,” says Josna, who has been staying in the slum for the past nine years. The residents, however, have never witnessed a flooding of such scale before, she says. “This is the first time we have been forced out of our houses due to inundation.”
While some families were trapped inside their homes due to flooding, several residents carried their children and fled during the night, Josna says. “There is no water to drink or take a shower. No one has come to help us in any way. Our kids are starving. We do not have food or a place to sleep,” she adds.
Shahid Shaikh, another slum resident who had migrated to Bengaluru from West Bengal, says they had to wade through waist-deep water while transferring household goods and valuables to safer locations, in order to protect themselves from the flood's onslaught. “But all our efforts were in vain, as the food and ration were drenched in water,” he says. Their beds, blankets, sheets, groceries, and clothes were all drenched to the point of ruin.
The residents also couldn’t go to their workplaces as they couldn’t leave their children stranded in the water, he says, adding that the situation has worsened since last month.
Shafeena, who also resides in the slum, says families have been finding it difficult to access even necessities as basic as food and water. “There is no place for us to go to. Our houses are completely flooded. We just sit outside and wait for the water to recede.”