Drought, Now Floods: Misery Haunts Eastern UP
Lucknow: Incessant rains, regular rising water levels and floods, have wrecked havoc in most of the Terai and eastern regions of Uttar Pradesh. While since Wednesday, there has been some respite from rain that was continuing for the last four days, the floodwater released from the Nepal Dams has made the situation worse. According to data shared by the relief commissioner’s office in Lucknow on Thursday, floods have submerged 1,380 villages in 18 districts of Uttar Pradesh. All this destruction has taken place after an unusually dry monsoon period.
The floodwater has swept away six people in the Balrampur district of UP, four in Gonda and two in Shrawasti. Of these, ten have died, while two are still missing. Amidst heavy rains, lightning killed six people in the Jhansi district late Tuesday night.
Balrampur has been identified as the worst-hit district, with 287 flooded villages, followed by Siddharthnagar, with 129 flood-hit villages. Other districts with the most inundated villages include -- Gorakhpur (120), Shravasti (114), Gonda (110), Bahraich (102), Lakhimpur Kheri (86), Barabanki (82), Bulandshahr (68), Maharajganj (63), Azamgarh (60), Sitapur (57), Basti (32), Sant Kabir Nagar (19), Kushinagar (14), Mau (13), Ayodhya (12), Deoria (5) and Ambedkar Nagar (2).
Hundreds of local people and their livestock, living permanently on river banks, are now on the verge of starvation. The villagers spend sleepless nights on their houses’ roofs as they flood. The affected people have alleged that the government departments are neither providing them relief nor reaching out to them even to know their pathetic conditions.
People familiar with the matter said residents of around four dozen villages surrounding Rapti, Ghaghra and Sarayu, including Sant Kabir Nagar and Deoria, have been spending sleepless nights amid rising concerns of overflow.
“Our 70-year-old house is full of sludge, and though it’s standing, we don’t know when it might collapse. The wooden planks on the roof are caving in. The stinking water makes it worse. We don’t know whether we’ll be able to stay here even after the water recedes,” Rajveer, a villager in Bahraich’s Mihipurwa, told NewsClick.
Thousands of people in the Gonda district have been forced to flee from their homes as flood waters have entered more than a hundred villages. The rising water levels of several rivers are threatening to inundate many other villages in the coming days.
While the men and children sleep in the open along with cattle, goats and sheep, women spend nights under small makeshift tents made of plastic and tarpaulin sheets to protect their modesty. Thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed by drowning in water. The village has lost contact with each other. The only support for people to come and go is by boat.
Dinesh Singh, the executive engineer of irrigation who is monitoring the situation, said that the river level has been constant in Sant Kabir Nagar but increased in the Deora district and added that they were prepared for any danger.
On Thursday, Budhi Rapti River eroded the embankments near Shohratgarh and inundated over 20 more villages. People familiar with the matter said that 8 lakh cubic litres of water was released in the barrage near Nepal, reaching Gorakhpur in the next 24 hours, triggering fears among the residents.
According to NDRF officer Gautam Gupta, five relief camps have been set up in the Gorakhpur district. As many as 172 villages are affected by floods, while 22 are marooned. District authorities have sent 170 boats to the inundated villages, he added.
DOUBLE WHAMMY FOR FARMERS
The latest spell of rain, which continued for more than a week across Uttar Pradesh, is said to have widely damaged standing crops. Before that, about 50 districts of the state received scanty rainfall, increasing the difficulties of farmers.
The double whammy of scanty rainfall during the monsoon in about 50 districts and widespread excessive rain and floods post-monsoon has left farmers in Uttar Pradesh with massive crop losses, people aware of the situation said.
“The drought during monsoon delayed planting of paddy already causing losses, and now unprecedented rainfall in October has flattened standing paddy and other crops,” Raju, a small farmer in Barabanki district, told NewsClick.
“The government must make a fair assessment of losses suffered by farmers due to drought earlier and because of heavy rain and floods now to compensate them,” he demanded.
A farmer in the Deoria district told NewsClick, “The situation in our region is worse than in 1998. People are migrating to safer places, but those poor farmers don’t have anything left in the lurch due to administration failure. If the situation remains the same, we will lose both our homes and crops as well,” Bhagat Kushwaha, a farmer, told NewsClick.
While the government agencies are still busy calculating the losses suffered by farmers due to the drought-like situation earlier, heavy rainfall in October has upset all their loss assessments.
A senior official of the agriculture department told NewsClick that their field survey indicated that the paddy production might drop up to 20% due to drought, and they were preparing reports accordingly to seek financial assistance from the Centre to compensate affected farmers.
“But, now we feel the losses due to heavy rain may be much higher,” he added.
Additional chief secretary (agriculture) Devesh Chaturvedi said the assessment of crop damage due to scanty rainfall was still being finalised when the heavy rain and floods also started wreaking havoc.
“It appears that the impact of rain and floods on the crops may be even higher than that of drought,” he added.
He said chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday ordered a field survey by agriculture and revenue departments to assess crop losses suffered by farmers due to rain and floods.
“Now, we will send a composite report on losses due to both drought and excessive rainfall to the Centre,” Chaturvedi said.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.