Their homes were inundated, and the roads in the area have completely vanished.

They only come for votes Hyd colony laments about apathy after rains leave them helplessAll images: Nitin B
news Hyderabad Rains Monday, October 09, 2017 - 19:43

50-year-old Kamakshi is worried as she sits by her cycle, which holds a large bag of rice flour used for making 'rangolis'.

"I had to buy new stock after I lost everything. Most of our belongings also floated away with the gushing water," she says.

Kamakshi's family is one of ten families occupying a small plot in Hyderabad's Vasanthapuri colony, a low-lying area near Malkajgiri, that gets flooded each time it rains. 

It houses families dependent on selling 'muggu' (as known in Telugu), which in turn funds the education of their children.

(Kamakshi showing the stock that was damaged)

"When the rains came, it damaged muggu worth lakhs. All of us had kept the stock in bags over here. It also washed away several books, bags and other things that the children were using to study," says Madhu, a youngster in the area. 

On the evening of October 2, the day that Hyderabad witnessed a cloudburst, water began rising in a deep pit dug up right next to the plot.

The pit, which was at least 10 to 12 feet deep according to locals, filled up within a matter of hours and began rising fast. 

Though there was a tall wall to prevent water from entering the plot, the force of the water managed to crack the bricks and cement. The water gushed in, inundating the area. 

The residents of the plot had to break a wall on the opposite side of the gate to escape, and sought higher ground for the next few nights in temples and community centres. 

(The crack in the wall)

(A local shows how high the water rose on October 2)

They have returned, but water continues to stagnate in the pit as labourers are busy with another building next to the pit, dumping a large number of sandbags to stop the wall from getting pulled down by the water's weight. if it rains, the water level rises and the wall gets pulled down, which could mean that the entire cellar and building could collapse into the water.

The labourers working at the spot are homeless themselves.

"Water enters our house every time it rains and we feel really helpless. We have left our homes and we are living in this open ground over there," says a labourer, as he points to tents set up on an open ground.

"The corporators of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) come during election time to ask for votes and are nowhere in sight when we are drowning. We all feel like fools. Many have returned to their native villages," one labourer says.

"We do physical labour all day and put in blood and sweat so that we can feed our family. All our belongings get washed away when it rains a single time. Who will share our pain?" asks another labourer. 

Alleged Encroachment

To make matters worse, locals allege that the pit, which is filled to the brim, is actually an encroachment on a stormwater drain which is built to let water out of the low-lying area.

"The area used to be flat land, with a facility for a stormwater drain. However, a local politician put a slab on the drain and began constructing over it. There result is here for all of us to see. The encroachment is resulting in several lanes getting flooded, " Bhaskar Rao, a local resident alleges.

He also complains that the timely desilting of drains was not done, which led to outlets being blocked.

Vanishing roads

The roads in the area have completely vanished as the rains washed away whatever remaining cement and tar was left.

"It is nearly impossible for us to ride through these lanes. There are no roads left in the first place, and water stagnates in giant potholes between the little road that is left," says Santosh, a local resident.

"We witness someone slipping on the stones every other day. Each time it rains, it just keeps getting worse and worse. We're so used to the government apathy that we have become indifferent," he laments.



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