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Karnataka: Urban Poor in Distress After Rain Ravages Livelihoods in Bengaluru

Saurav Kumar |
Hundreds of migrant workers, mostly rag-pickers and dry waste collecters, are the worst hit as their homes lie half submerged in water, depriving them of shelter, food and potable water.
Waterlogged Munnekolala slum / Credit: Twitter

Waterlogged Munnekolala slum / Credit: Twitter

Bengaluru: Amidst the hue and cry over water-logged Bengaluru after incessant rainfall, the city's urban poor are on the receiving end as the worst-hit victims of the flood.

Away from the lens and trends of social media, distressed migrant workers residing in the slums of Bellandur, Marathahalli, Brookfield, Palyam, Whitefield and BEML layout have not become a matter of concern either for fellow citizens or for civic authorities.

At Munnekolala slum, hundreds of houses were found half submerged in water with their inhabitants residing on the edge of roads or on the outskirts of the slum.

Nearly 800 houses and an estimated population of 2,000 people in Munnekolala got affected due to the flood.

Overnight, water gushed into the homes of hundreds of slum dwellers of Munnekolala slum on September 4 after incessant rains that flooded different parts of the city washed away food, clothes, beds and books of workers dwelling in slums.

On September 5, an NGO named Hasirudala, the Inter-State Migrant Workers Federation of Karnataka (IMFK) affiliated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) reached Munnekolala slum and took stock of the situation.

The urban flood has deprived thousands of workers of shelter and food. The organisations demanded relief measures from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)

On September 5, BBMP, after pressure and demands from trade unions, provided tarpaulins for shelter to the affected families of migrant workers.

Imrana Khan (55), who has taken shelter under a tarpaulin on the outskirts of Munnekolala slum, told NewsClick, “Our vessels, clothes, ration and everything got washed away after water flooded our house. We had to rush out of the slum as it was drowned in water within minutes.”

Imrana, Flood victim, Munnekolala slum / Credit: Saurav Kumar

Imrana, Flood victim, Munnekolala slum / Credit: Saurav Kumar

Five members of Imrana’s family and many like them were relieved after they received the tarpaulin.

Abul Sheikh, another migrant worker hailing from Nadia district of West Bengal, told NewsClick, that “rainfall and waterlogging wreaked havoc leaving hundreds without shelter and food. The IMFK ensured immediate intervention of the city's largest civic authority, BBMP, to provide tarpaulin for shelter and food three times a day.”

As per Abul, all slum dwellers had to transfer household goods and valuables to safer locations.

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Life in water / Credit: Saurav Kumar

Besides sustaining the crisis, there were attempts to protect the modes of livelihood.

A group of rag pickers were seen ferrying sacks of dry waste to a safe place.

Imran and Mansoor along with their friends were found pushing a handcart loaded with dry waste sacks and wading through knee-deep water. The handcart got stuck in the middle of a flooded road. Their aim was to take it to a nearby garbage selling point and fetch some money so they could see themselves through the existential crisis.

Imran told NewsClick that “although we are in a deep crisis- rendered homeless, we are slowly making efforts to safeguard collected dry waste which somehow can provide us some amount to sustain livelihood until we re-settle in our respective households.”

Recalling the horrific moments of the sudden flood, Imran said: “We did not anticipate sudden flood. We tried our best to save our families and belongings but all our efforts were in vain, as the food and ration were drenched in water.”

The affected migrant workers are rag pickers and dry waste collectors across different parts of the city. By cleaning the city's waste, they have been earning their livelihood.

During the flood, the same waste pickers are forced to live in filthy conditions, their children have to reside beside the large humps of solid waste that got swayed by the flood water.

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A portion of devastated Munnekolala slum / Credit: Saurav Kumar

After the water receded in a few parts of the slum, the intensity of the devastation was evident. Wet beds were found scattered lying outside empty settlements. 

On September 8, with the help of Hasirudala, water was drained out of the waterlogged parts of the slum using the water pump.

Torrential rain-induced flood and waterlogging also affected 65 houses in Brookfield slum and pourakarmika workers were among the affected population.

AICCTU pressured Karnataka Social Welfare Department on Thursday to provide ration kits, tarpaulin and blankets to the affected population.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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