Yamuna to hit 5-year-high in Delhi today, displaced families say they haven’t received relief
Even as the water level in Yamuna is expected to hit a five-year-high of 206.6m on Tuesday, complaints continued to pour in on Monday that several people, living in shanties in the low-lying areas of the river’s flood plains, were yet to receive any relief. Dozens were found to be living on roads in makeshift shelters.
Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday morning directed state revenue minister Kailash Gahlot to visit the affected areas and make additional arrangements for the affected people.
“Directed Kailash Gehlot ji, minister-in-charge, to visit the area along with all officers and ensure proper arrangements (sic),” Kejriwal tweeted in the morning.
Soon after Gahlot reached the low-lying areas with senior officials from the district administration and revenue department, complaints started pouring in.
Kamal Singh, a slum dweller living in the floodplains near Gandhi Nagar market, alleged: “The water level is rising. Yet till now we have not received any help from the government. What made the situation worse was that the power supply was disconnected for a long time on Sunday night.”
“While those who were not yet affected by the rising water have been brought to government shelters, we are yet to receive any help despite the floodwater reaching our doorsteps. There are no tents for us to move into,” said an elderly woman who did not wish to be identified.
After hearing the complaints, Gahlot said: “I have asked the officers to make arrangements for all those who have been affected by the flood waters within an hour. Extra tents would be set up if required.”
A senior official of the revenue department, however, said tents had already been put up, but as they were at a distance from where they stayed, slum dwellers have been reluctant to move.
“Soon after the minister’s visit at least 18 camps were set up in around the Gandhi Market area. People who were still living in the floodplains have been asked to shift here,” the revenue department official said.
Many families were seen constructing their own shelters on the roadside in Shakarpur pushta after they were forced to abandon their shanties in the low lying areas of the floodplains.
“There are dozens of families who have refused to move. They said that they would move only after the water enters their homes,” said an official.
Those who had already shifted to relief camps, however, said they were being provided with all basic amenities.
“We are being served with food at least three times a day. Mobile toilet facilities, drinking water and electricity are all there in the tents. Out cattle have also been give space at the far end of the camp site,” said Dhruv Kumar, a farmer. Kumar, who lived in a shanty in the floodplains opposite Gandhi Nagar market, has moved to the camp with his five children, wife and brother.
This is the highest the Yamuna has swollen since 2013, when Delhi last encountered flood-like situation. In 2013, the water level touched 207.3m.
According to Delhi government’s estimates, around 10,000 people have been evacuated so far and at least 1,149 tents have been set up, as the river’s water level touched 205.8m at around 9 pm on Monday. Around 8,600 people are living in tents set up by the government.
Meanwhile, Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan criticised Delhi government for not doing enough to provide shelter to affected people. “People along the Yamuna in Delhi are at the mercy of an insensitive government. As the river is rising above danger mark due to incessant rains, no advance planning in place, not enough shelter for people caught up in flood waters (sic),” he tweeted.
While traffic has been suspended on the Old Iron Bridge since Sunday night, train services were hit on Monday morning after services had to be suspended temporarily. At least 27 trains had to be cancelled before services could resume after noon.
River to recede from Wednesday
Officials from the irrigation and flood control department said the Yamuna may start receding from Wednesday after reaching an expected peak of 206.5m on Tuesday evening.
“Haryana had released 6 lakh cusecs of water from Hathni Kund barrage on Saturday. That water is expected to reach Delhi by Tuesday evening. We expect the water to start receding from Wednesday as Haryana has already reduced its water release. By 9pm on Monday, they had released only around 29,600 cusecs,” said an official of the flood control room.
The India Meteorological Department has forecast that heavy rain is unlikely to occur in the upper catchment areas of Yamuna in states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh at least over the next five days.