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Safe drinking water: Flood-hit K'taka's next worry

Last updated on: October 7, 2009 10:14 IST

Safe drinking water: Flood-hit K'taka's next worry

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Karnataka continues to reel under one of it worst floods in recent times. The death toll has crossed 200 and 25 lakh hectares of standing crop has been damaged, as per a report prepared by the state government.

Although the rains have subsided to a large extent, the relief operation continues and several people continue to remain displaced. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa is now conducting an aerial survey of Bagalkot, Gulbarga and Koppal, all in the northern Karnataka, which has been the worst hit.

While water levels in all these areas have receded thanks to a break in relentless rains for the past two days, another major worry is clean drinking water.

Text: Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru

Photographs: KPN Photos


Image: An aerial view of flood affected area at Jevargi in Gulbarga district on Sunday

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Possibility of epidemic outbreak is not ruled out

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Government officials who have visited the areas of Bagalkot, Gadag, Hungund, Badami and Dharwad told rediff.com that they are expecting the worst. They do not rule out the possibility of an epidemic outbreak since most of the drinking water sources have been contaminated.

A lot of dirty water has made its way into drinking water tanks and they fear that the people who use it could fall ill. Ironically, the state government is supplying drinking water to all these villages despite it being a water related calamity.

Apart from supplying food and drinking water, rescue teams have been dropping chlorine tablets into tanks to clean them up. Officials seem to be having a tough time urging people to move out of the village and return only when normalcy returns.

However, none of the villagers in these parts have moved out, and say that they do not want to leave their lands. This is causing a great deal of trouble for the officials involved in the rescue work.

Image: A view of Mantralaya that was flooded due heavy rain

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'2,39,852 houses damaged; 5,266 livestock lost'

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Assessment

An official report of the state government suggests that loss of livestock has been 5,266 while the numbers of houses damaged are 239,852. The crop area damaged is around 25 lakh hectares.

The state government has a lot of damage control to do. The loss estimated is Rs 16,500 crore. Damages to roads, bridges and culverts is at Rs 5,000 crore, houses at Rs 1,000 crore, crops worth Rs 2,500 crore have been damaged, immediate relief to population affected is Rs 1,500 crore, damages to electricity installation is Rs 500 crore, loss to village infrastructure such as drains, roads, schools, community halls is at Rs 1,500 crore while damage to protective embankments and damage to tanks and irrigation canals is at Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,500 crore respectively.

Image: Residents of Kamatagi, Bagalkot district walk through flooded street due to heavy rain

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Heavy rains of September-October caused the damage

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Rescue and relief

The Karnataka government has opened up 1,558 relief camps where 355,769 people are being provided with food and shelter. There are 12 Indian Air Force choppers that have been deployed for relief work and 220 National Disaster Response Force personnel with 329 boats and 20 MEG (Madras Engineers Group of the Indian Army) personnel on the job. Till date 2 million food packets have been distributed.

Rain pattern

While rainfall has been pretty normal this monsoon, it was the heavy rains in September and early October which caused the problem. Met department officials told rediff.com that the state received excess rainfall in September. As against the normal rainfall of 160 mm, Karnataka received 271 mm. All the 27 districts in the state recorded excess rainfall. The taluk-wise rainfall pattern indicates excess rainfall in 164 taluks out 176 in the state.

 


Image: Rehabilitation things are being sent by helicopter to the flood hit areas

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CM will lead a padayatra to collect funds for victims

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Relief from the Centre

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was scheduled to visit the flood-hit areas of Karnataka on Tuesday, but the plan was changed. Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, meanwhile, has invited top officials of Karnataka to Delhi in order to work out a solution to the crisis. A delegation headed by the chief secretary would leave for Delhi on October 8.

Meanwhile Yeddyurappa will be leading a padayatra on October 7 in order to collect funds for the flood victims.

While in Delhi, Karnataka would seek an interim relief fund of Rs 10,000 crore. Further they would also urge the Centre to send a study team to assess the damage caused by the floods. Lastly, Karnataka would also urge the Centre to declare this disaster as a natural calamity considering the severity and vastness of the affected areas.

Image: A view of gruel centre for flood victims in Bagalkot on Saturday

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