A visit to Hafiz Baba Nagar which falls under the Chandrayangutta assembly constituency, where the Hyderabad floods wreaked havoc, is sure to leave you with a feeling of sadness and dismay. When this reporter visited the locality, he asked an old man about how to reach the worst affected areas. Pointing towards the locality behind him, the old man replied, â€śJust enter into any of those by-lanes of Hafiz Baba Nagar and you can witness the brunt of the flooding that happened.â€ť
In the wee hours of Saturday night, the bund on the Gurram Cheruvu, also known as Balapur Lake, broke around 1 am, causing water to breach and levels to rise in several localities in and around it. The sludge and the waste that was washed into the narrow lanes had formed mountains of dirt. The stench of rotten plants and waste filled the nostrils. There were several people standing outside their homes, on the street.
One of the first people TNM spoke with was Syed Habib, a driver in the commercial taxes department, who hasnâ€™t gone to work in the last four days. â€śI called and informed them that my house got flooded and that I wouldnâ€™t be able come to work. I am unsure when I can resume,â€ť said a morose Habib, more disappointed and resigned about what happened than angry. His family of 11 lived in a two-bedroom house in the locality.
In another place, Mohammed Issaq and his relatives were cleaning the sludge from their home. His is one of the few houses where the power supply has been restored. Not only was the motor at his home damaged in the flood, Issaq lost goods worth Rs 40-50,000 too. â€śThe water reached until nine feet inside my house,â€ť he told TNM, pointing towards a damp wall. â€śThankfully we werenâ€™t sleeping, otherwise I can only imagine what the situation would have been. As the water level began to rise, we ran to that building,â€ť he added, pointing towards a three-floor structure, the tallest amongst the houses in the locality. Most families who didnâ€™t have a second floor to run to safety took shelter on it terrace.
Mohammed Issaq's house in Hafiz Baba Nagar
40-year-old Muqtadar Khan, a contract professor at Osmania University, is one of the few who own a big house in the locality. Khan had worked in Kuwait for ten years and saved as much as he could to bring back home in 2012 to take care of his mother. When the water levels began to rise at around 1 am, he called for help to his brother who lived close by. Together, they carried his 60-year-old mother, a wheelchair user, to the first floor, accompanied by his wife and four young children.
Muqtadar Khan's house
â€śI realized something was wrong when the water levels suddenly arose around 1.30 am. Thatâ€™s when I realized my motherâ€™s insulin was in the cupboard inside the house. I made my way through the waist deep water to get it, and by the time I came out, I was almost floating in the water. There was a moment I was stuck; so, I closed my eyes and thought of my three-month-old daughter. I told myself that she doesnâ€™t even know that I am her father. Thatâ€™s when I was filled with a will that I should do everything I can to survive,â€ť recollects Khan. He finally made his way to the staircase that took him to his family on the first floor.
Taking us around his house, Khan explained how he lost his laptops, fridge, TV and other electronic items. He found his passport, bank documents, other important papers and Rs 5,800 soiled and discoloured, a day after the water levels reduced. Two clocks on the wall stopped exactly at 2:45 am, the time the water had reached the height at which they hung. Khan had also been keeping 108 pigeons in an enclosure outside his home. However, as the water levels rose, he could not go back and save them â€“ a loss he rues dearly.
The clocks in the house that stopped working at 2:45 that fateful night
However, he smiles and says, â€śI have no complaints about all that I lost. The losses amount to around Rs 3-4 lakh, but thatâ€™s okay. What happened was beyond anyoneâ€™s control. I am thankful that we are all safe and alive. I come from a very poor background and made this house what it is by saving every penny. We will start from scratch, and inshallah, build everything again.â€ť