Floods
Several families whose homes on the Krishna river banks were destroyed by floods have continued to live in an open relief camp since August.

Ever since the Krishna river flooded on August 14, more than 60 families in Vijayawada have been rendered homeless. The families, who were moved to a ‘shelter camp’, an open space under a water tank near Tadikonda Subbarao government primary school in Rani Gari Thota, have been unable to return to their homes though more than three months have passed. 

Many of their homes had thatched roofs which were destroyed in the floods. “The roofs are gone and the floor is muddy and filthy with stagnant water. Snakes have entered our homes. We keep waiting for the house to dry so we can clean it up, but either the barrage water is released or there are more rains,” says Kumar, who has been living at the camp with his wife and two children.

Tirupatamma and around 50 other families continue to live under precarious conditions, with no roof on their heads. “Since we stay here under the water tank, we get drenched sometimes when it rains. Children are getting sick, many of them are getting viral fevers, typhoid and other illnesses. Because all of us have to stay close together and there are no proper facilities. As you can see, there’s nowhere to go when it rains,” says Tirupatamma. 

The relief camp was set up by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC). While the VMC provided food and water for a few days in the beginning, the families are now left to fend for themselves. Sampoorna, who also lives under the water tank, says, “We are using pay for use toilets. We don’t always get water here. It’s difficult for women to use sanitation facilities. It’s been very difficult, we’re living in hell.” 

The floods have also hurt their livelihoods, with a majority of those displaced being daily wage workers. Stress and uncertainty are now a constant in their lives. “People come and ask for Aadhaar and Ration cards, they’re asking for all kinds of ID proofs. We don’t know who will come when, so we can’t go to work peacefully. We’re afraid they might tear down these houses also, so we keep coming here to keep an eye. Our livelihood is also affected, and this issue is also not getting resolved,” Kumar says.

The families are demanding that those living in low-lying areas of the Krishna river bank must be relocated, and that the government must construct a retaining wall as proposed in 2009. The wall, only partially built, would prevent flooding to some extent. 

However, authorities say that the families have been living in objectionable areas, in the Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of the river bed. While the government is yet to figure out an evacuation plan to provide permanent housing to the affected people, Tirupatamma and the other families, will remain homeless in Vijayawada, exposed to financial and health risks. 

Watch the video here: 

 
Homeless in Vijayawada: 3 months after floods, families live in makeshift relief camp

Homeless in Vijayawada: 3 months after floods, families live in makeshift relief camp

Posted by TheNewsMinute on Friday, 22 November 2019

Full transcript: 

On Independence Day this year, Tirupatamma and her family of four moved into this makeshift shelter under a water tank. This after her home in Vijayawada’s Tarakaramanagar was reduced to nothing, washed away in the Krishna River floods on August 14. Tirupatamma, along with 80 other families had no option but to run for their lives.

Tirupatamma says, "We’ve been staying here for three months, we moved here in August. Since the floods haven’t abated, we are forced to stay here. You can see how the condition is here."

Kumar says, "Water had reached above that tin roof. We couldn’t take our things like fans, beds, cupboards etc. We left in a rush."

What was supposed to provide temporary relief has now turned into a three-month long ordeal. With no home to return to, Tirupatamma and around 50 other families continue to live under the water tank, exposed to the elements. 

Tirupatamma says, "Since we stay here under the water tank, we get drenched sometimes when it rains. Children are getting sick, many of them are getting viral fevers, typhoid and other illnesses. Because all of us have to stay close together and there are no proper facilities. As you can see, there’s nowhere to go when it rains."

This sham of a relief camp was set up by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation. After the flood waters receded, families moved what little they could salvage to the relief shelter - a cot to sleep on, gas cylinder and vessels for cooking. But with so many families forced to share limited space and facilities, the living conditions, they say, are a nightmare.

Sampoorna says, "We are using pay for use toilets. We don’t always get water here. It’s difficult for women to use sanitation facilities. It’s been very difficult, we’re living in hell."

Reporter Jahnavi says, "The floods destroyed not just their houses, but also hurt their livelihoods, with a majority of those displaced being daily wage workers. Stress and uncertainty now remain a constant - whether it is fear that their houses will be torn down by the government or that they will miss out on enumeration for new housing, or that they will be evicted from the relief camp."

Kumar says, "People come and ask for Aadhaar and Ration cards, they’re asking for all kinds of ID proofs. We don’t know who will come when, so we can’t go to work peacefully. We’re afraid they might tear down these houses also, so we keep coming here to keep an eye. Our livelihood is also affected, and this issue is also not getting resolved. It’s been 3 months now, and some officials asked us to vacate the relief camp. There’s still dirt here, and the houses have to be rebuilt. But they said you have to leave, we have pressure from above."

What these families are now demanding is that those living in low-lying areas be relocated and that the govt construct a retaining wall, as proposed in 2009. The wall, only partially built, would prevent flooding of the houses on the banks of the Krishna river.

Kumar says, "We want them to build the retaining wall for the people in the higher areas, and give some living space for those of us from the low-lying areas so we can get by."

Authorities, however, say that the families have been living in unauthorized areas. The government is planning to relocate them, but the plans are still unclear.

Md. Imtiaz, Krishna District Collector says, "Several of these houses, they’re living in objectionable areas, they’re living in the FRL (Full Reservoir Level) of the river bed. So these people need to be evacuated, and it is being planned by the government. We have been instructed by the CM to relocate these people. Enumeration is being done revenue, municipal, and irrigation authorities together."

But until the govt’s plans turn into permanent housing, Tirupatamma and the other families will remain homeless in Vijayawada, with not even a roof over their heads. .