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'Why do we pay taxes, to live this hellish life?'

By Kunal Dutt
October 06, 2019 17:18 IST

Rajendra Nagar, a planned colony built after Independence, is the worst-affected area in the Bihar capital, seeing an unprecedented flooding which residents said has "exposed the under-preparedness of the corporation".

IMAGE: A rag picker rows a makeshift boat as he collects plastic bottles floating on floodwaters at Rajendra Nagar area of Patna. Photograph: PTI Photo

Life is still hellish for a majority of residents of Patna's Rajendra Nagar, where rainwater stagnated a week ago and has now turned filthier, causing considerable hardship to residents and commuters, even as doctors warn of serious health consequences.

The R K Avenue stretch, from Dinkar Chowk to Moin-ul Haq stadium roundabout, presents a bleak picture with the main road and inner streets flooded since September 30, with locals alleging that noone from civic authorities have approached them to help.

Aarti Devi, 45, a resident of Road No 6 in Rajendra Nagar, said she has to wade through the dirty water to reach her home, at places through thigh-deep levels.

"My house is still inundated, and all our sofa, fridge and other furniture and household items are ruined. It is seven days since the waterlogging; we have children at home. What is Patna Municipal Corporation doing? Are we to live like this," she wondered.

 

Rajendra Nagar, a planned colony built after Independence, is the worst-affected area in the Bihar capital, seeing an unprecedented flooding which residents said has "exposed the under-preparedness of the corporation".

"On the first day, the water level was so high, it was scary. Then power supply snapped. We lived without water and electricity for five days, and survived on stocked breads and rice. The government is behaving as if they have no control over it, some are calling it a calamity.

"Why do we pay taxes, to live this hellish life? Water has turned black with all the dirt and bacteria in it. We are now staring at a health scare, and corporation authorities have not provided any relief to us,” said another resident, who did not wish to be identified.

IMAGE: Rag pickers collect plastic drinking bottles floating on floodwaters. Photograph: PTI Photo

The house of the deputy chief minister is nearby, and even he and his family had to be evacuated. Will someone take responsibility or not, the resident asked.

Many locals thanked volunteers, who have gone out on their limbs to provide water, milk, food supplies to people stranded in their homes, mostly taking refuge on the first floor or above to stay away from the filthy water.

A group of Sikh volunteers under the banner of Baba Deep Singh Sewa Dal & Welfare Society, has come from as far as Punjab's Hoshiarpur to provide relief to the people in need.

"We are a team of nine people, and we left in a tempo traveller from Punjab the day we heard about the floods. We reached Patna on Oct 1 and since then we have rescued people and provided food, medicine and water to them," Manjot Singh Talwandi, president of the Dal, said.

The team has stocked up supplies in a bus and has an inflatable boat and a fogging machine.

"We are carrying our own boat to help people and rescued many since we landed here. Patna Sahib is the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh ji and our gurus have taught us to serve selflessly without any discrimination, so we are here," Talwandi said.

Another Sikh organisation Khalsa Aid has also provided relief to Patna residents.

IMAGE: Patna Municipal Corporation workers clean flood-affected Rajendra Nagar area. Photograph: PTI Photo

Doctors have warned that stagnant water would lead to many water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera, malaria and dengue cases will also spike.

"Flooding has exposed the failure of the civic body but it will be a bigger failure if the authorities do not take precaution after the water recedes.

"Proper spraying of disinfectants, checking quality of supply water and quick and proper disposal of waste should be done," said Keshav Kumar, from Doctors For You, which is providing medical services to affected people through a camp in Rajendra Nagar.

Maya Devi, 37, whose house in Rajendra Nagar is still flooded, said, "The government authorities and political parties are busy in blame game instead of fixing responsibility. But the volunteers are doing the actual service."

"I also read in papers that the civic body has lost the drainage map of Patna. And they talk of making it a Smart City. First they should make it a liveable Patna and right now our life is between hell and high water," she said.

Kunal Dutt
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