The Buried Village

According to the district administration, 40 people were buried under the rubble of the landslides of which 36 corpses have been recovered so far, while the remaining four are yet to be traced.
The Buried Village
File Photo

More than the threat of any other natural calamity, I am worried about the approaching winters as with 2 year old Kewal (son), two daughters Shivali (7) and Meenakshi (5), it would not be easy to live in tin sheds", says Kamlesh Devi, a resident of Saddal village, about 42 kilometers from Udhampur town.

Kamlesh's is the only family – including her husband Diler Singh, a son and two daughters – presently living in the tin-shed provided by NGO 'Love Care Foundation' in cooperation with local district administration after the village was buried under massive landslides triggered by heavy rains in September last year.

THE TRAGEDY

According to the district administration, 40 people were buried under the rubble of the landslides of which 36 corpses have been recovered so far, while the remaining four are yet to be traced.

Over 132 families were dislocated following devastating rains and resultant landslides that hit the village on September 7, 2014.  86 families have been shifted to hutments in nearby Panjar village whereas 46 families are living in similar tin sheds in Sui village of Udhampur. 

However, as of now, except or one family in Panjar village, 85 families have either taken refuge in the houses of their relatives in and around the area or shifted to the upper mountainous areas in their 'alternate summer houses'. 

At the advent of winter season, the left out people will also take refuge in the houses of their relatives, one of the villagers said. "That the tin sheds get hot in summers and cold in winters, which is why most of the affected families preferred not to stay in these government sheds". According to Geology and Mining Department, the 65 kilometers area between the Kainth Gali to Baghdhar in Revenue District Udhampur is unsafe for construction or agricultural purposes as the area is prone to landslides.

RELIEF, REHAB MEASURES

Although, the district administration claims to have adequately compensated the residents of Saddal-Panjar villages, the Panchayat representatives say some people are yet to be fully compensated for lives, livestock, crops and other losses suffered by them.

One of the villagers Yash Pal, who lost his entire family including his grandmother, father and mother, said he is yet to receive a fair amount of the compensation as promised by the authorities.

District administration had identified land at Dabreh area in Udhampur tehsil where it is planning to construct 32 houses for the 46 families affected in last year's havoc, presently living in Sui area of Udhampur. The administration has directed the revenue officials to identify land for the remaining 86 families but till date, no land-piece has been identified. 

UNKEPT PROMISES

Minister of State in Prime Minister Office, Dr. Jitendra Singh, who also represents the area in the Parliament, on January 24 this year, visited the area and announced adoption of the village under the Model Village Scheme. "However, on ground nothing other than a gate indicating adoption of Saddal as model village, nothing has been done with regard to construction of roads and infrastructure or providing other benefits to the flood ravaged people is concerned", a local social activist said.

LACK OF AMENITIES

The sufferers say they are facing acute shortage of food items, saying that although the administration provided rations earlier on, the same has been stopped now. They also accused the administration of failing to fully restore the road connectivity to the area.

NGO'S ROLE WIDELY HAILED

The flood-affected people in the Saddal and Panjar sang in praise of national as well as state based NGOs for helping the people in distress, as according to them, more than the District Administration the NGOs helped them in their tough times and are helping even today by one or other means.

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