The Monsoon Floods of 2017
KHEL Photographer and Chronicler of Local Events
The monsoons cause serious devastation in Shiv Puri Colony where Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for underserved children is located. People think of water when they think of flooding, but it’s much more than just water; the rivers are full of garbage and flood waters aren’t clean, carrying many diseases that affect the health and wellbeing of everyone, especially children, the elderly and infirm, and economically deprived people who are already suffering from the many consequences of poor nutrition and other factors.
Early one morning, we woke to hear our neighbours shouting that the Rispana River was rising and our colony was flooding. It had rained heavily for many days and we were expecting some flooding. By the time we went to see how we could help, the situation resembled a nightmare. It was terrifying to see the road in front of our home rapidly filling with dirty water, turning into a swiftly flowing small river that threatened to take everything with it.
My mother, Kamli Bhatt, is the City Councillor for our area, so we, as a family, are responsible for more than just ourselves. We finally were able to find a way to the road behind us, leading to Bhagat Singh Colony that borders our area. The homes on that road were flooded, water cascading through one and two room homes that sit at street level, and even bigger homes were flooding. It was a terrible sight to see the homes of our friends and neighbours being destroyed. Desperate to save their homes, everyone joined together to bail out the water, a result of first the river overflowing its banks then the force of the river actually breaking the embankment. Once this happened, the homes were unprotected.
The water level kept rising and finally it became impossible to go anywhere on foot so my mother called for a tractor – she needed to assess the damage in other areas. The areas we visited were too heavily flooded for us to help so we called Disaster Management and moved onto the next area.
LDA is situated near a jungle. In previous years, the building had flooded leaving behind 3 feet of mud and dirt. There’s a small gate on one side of the LDA wall so the water that rushed in rapidly receded and thankfully no mud was left behind. But the water continued in its relentless path, flowing through the community around LDA, down the small hills bordering the jungle. Although worried for the homes in the path of the flooding, we were also relieved to see that the school wasn’t flooded – there’s been a lot of construction at LDA and any flooding there would do a great amount of damage to the newly laid cement. Part of the reason there was such a rush of water through the community is that someone had built a small retaining wall on their property and the rising water was held there. Eventually, the hand built wall couldn’t withstand the force of the flood waters and finally broke, flooding Shiv Puri Colony.
We continued to other areas, but some were so under water we couldn’t visit them. We saw the newly built bridge crossing the Rispana damaged by rising waters, but it is repairable. The rain finally started to decrease and in the days that followed, the Disaster Control Team arranged for many people to receive funds from the government to help replace their government allocated food rations (rations are essential for poor people who can’t afford to feed their families). This process takes time and meanwhile we do what we can to help those in need.
The life of our colony has returned to a semblance of normalcy after the terrifying day of flooding.
Next year, we’ll go through this all over again.
Anirudh Bhatt, fondly known as Keshav, has been a KHEL volunteer for most of his life. Recognising his potential, KHEL hired him to be our Chief Photographer and Chronicler of Events at Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for under served children in Dehradun, India. His easy going manner puts our kids at ease and they love to pose when their ‘big brother’ is behind the camera. Keshav has lived his entire life in Shiv Puri Colony, growing up with an in depth knowledge of the community and its needs. He has a B.Com in Accounting and certification in Tally, the virtual cloud integration software.