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Rising Yamuna water in Delhi revives 2013 memories for people living on floodplains

About 3,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Delhi to makeshift camps and traffic was suspended on the Old Yamuna Bridge as the water level in the Yamuna continued to rise on Sunday.

delhi Updated: Jul 30, 2018 10:29 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Yamuna river,Delhi,Delhi government
A view of submerged shanties as the water level of Yamuna river continues swelling in Delhi, July 29, 2018. Families who were staying on flood plains have been shifted to tents set up by the government .(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

With the water level in Yamuna swelling every day, memories of 2013 have again returned to haunt Dhruv Kumar and his family. The nine-member family has been once again been forced to abandon their farmland in the floodplains near east Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar and move to temporary camps.

“The last time I was forced to move out of my house was during the 2013 flood. My farmland got inundated and we had to move to camps,” said Kumar.

Kumar, his wife, their five children and his brother Mahinder have temporarily relocated to a camp set up opposite Gandhi Nagar market in east Delhi.

“We have set up around 25 tents in front of Gandhi Nagar market with a capacity to accommodate around 150-200 people. We are providing these people basic amenities like drinking water, mobile toilets, electricity and food,” said a senior government official from Shahdara district.

Dhurav Kumar and Jaynti with their children shifted to tents set up by the Delhi government after alerts of Yamuna River water level rise in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, July 29, 2018. ( Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO )

At least three similar campsites have been set up in Shahdara district alone where around 400-500 people can take shelter. Ambulances have been kept on standby near these campsites.

“I still don’t know when the waters will recede and when we can return home. This is going to be a massive loss for us as we were growing some vegetables. In the 2013 flood, we suffered a loss of more than Rs 1 lakh,” said Kumar’s wife Jayanti.

Oblivious of the hardships ahead, the children were having a good time at the camp. “I don’t think we will have to go to school for the next few days. We can now play all day. I had a lunch of puri and sabzi,” said 7-year-old Pitu.

A separate area was demarcated near the campsite to keep cattle and other domestic animals.

As a majority of tents remained vacant, civil defence volunteers were seen visiting nearby shanties to make announcements on loudspeakers about the rising water level. People were asked move to camps as the water could enter their homes.

A flood alert was sounded in the villages and slum clusters along the river and evacuations have started
People evacuated Farmers and cattle grazers living in huts and slum clusters on river banks and in low-lying areas
People moved to tents These residents chose to shift to govt tents
Number of tents set up
Personnel deployed From state government’s revenue department, flood and irrigation department, PWD and Delhi Disaster Management Authority. Army on standby
20 Boats deployed for rescue and evacuation
Delhi Police officials along with quick response teams (QRTs) and emergency response vehicles are moving around making warning announcements
The IMD has said the situation would improve because of less rainfall in the next 48 hours

“We have been seeing on the news that the water level is rising. It was then we decided to start packing our belongings as we were certain we would be evacuated. The same things happened in 2013 as well. Our house was washed away then,” said Prakash Rai, whose shanty was located next to Kumar.

Even though the flood is not expected to affect the main city, experts said people living illegally on the floodplains were going to be at risk. They are mostly farmers, cattle grazers and daily labourers who live in shanties along the river.

“At least 3,000 people have been evacuated so far. Around 550 tents have been set up. More would be set up and more people would be evacuated from the low lying areas on the floodplains if the water level rises,” said a senior official of the government.

But not everyone was willing to move. Officials involved in the evacuation said there were some families who refused to move.

“We have seen such floods before as well. It rises and then recedes. Let the water come to our doorsteps. We will move out then. We told the same thing to the officials who were asking us to move,” said Sher Singh, a daily labourer who stays with his family of six on the floodplains close to the iron bridge.

First Published: Jul 30, 2018 09:44 IST