Sunday, August 31, 2008

Feeling uneasy at home

Feeling uneasy at home
RAIN MISERY: The situation continues to be grim for those forced out of their flooded homes

Avalahalli: Saturday was a shade better, but it was not yet completely safe to move back into Sai Gardens in Avalahalli near Whitefield. Many residents and authorities maintained that in the absence of any further heavy rain, it would take at least a week to get back to normal life.
On Thursday afternoon, water from the Elemallapa lake flooded the residential complex housing around 200 families. Residents were stranded in their homes and later evacuated by boats.
Water levels were seen fast receding on Saturday with the Prema and Satya blocks almost completely drained out. However, residents of Shanti and Dharma blocks, located at the lowest level, are still battling with knee-deep water. Many who planned to return after seeing the receding water had to change plans after seeing their flats.
The walls and floors were left completely discoloured and damaged by rotting weeds and moss. Adding to the worries was the fact that there was no water or power supply and the sumps were highly contaminated. The light shower on Saturday evening did not help matters either.
Many residents, fearing outbreak of diseases, are already on their way to their native places to leave the kids there. Others plan to continue with the temporary stay at hotels and houses of friends and relatives.
Some of the housekeeping staff working on the relief works are bruised and affected by rashes because of prolonged exposure to the stagnant water. “We have been trying to take care of them as well, taking them to clinics and trying to keep them away from standing in the water for too long,’’ says Rekha, one of the association members who moved back to her home monitor the progress.
Only three or four families, living on the first and second floors, have moved in to start cleaning their flats. Sarita, the association secretary who stays at Shanti block, is among them. “The condition is not completely restored but we are returning to do some cleaning ourselves. Our kids are away at native places, safe from this mess. We don’t want them affected by any rash or infection,’’ she says.
Officers from the taluk and district levels continued spot inspections. “There is no major damage to the structural components due to its pillared construction. But the walls and the floors might need to be worked on,’’ one of the panchayat officials told Sunday Times of India. The residents declined the zilla panchayat’s offer of a temporary shelter and food at a nearby school and have no plans to rethink on this.
“We don’t want any refuge, but only a final solution to this problem. We are all happy that this time, both the officials and local people have been very co-operative in offering assistance. This also includes the efforts of Dr Shantakumar who offered us life jackets and boats on Thursday,’’ says Rekha.
What is being done to keep the water away?
While the association organized a truckload of sandbags to block the water gushing in from an adjoining real estate project, tahsildar of Bangalore East taluk B Venkatesh said efforts were on to dig another nala to divert the water into the lake. Work on this will begin at the earliest if no rain continues, he said. “In addition, the real estate project authorities have been asked to construct a high wall to stop water draining into Sai Gardens. If required, we are also ready to help with additional workforce for the relief operation,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, the association maintained the members will continue the work. With a majority of flats empty and water levels coming down, most members are keeping their fingers crossed that there is no heavy rain till the operation is complete.


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