'Everything washed away in floods; the clothes on our bodies are all that's left'
Extremely heavy rainfall has led to massive floods in Madhya Pradesh. More than a thousand villages in five districts are flood-hit. Hundreds of thousand people have lost their homes, belongings, stored food grains and crops in the field. A ground report from marooned villages in Vidisha district.
Satish Malviya 26 Aug 2022 11:23 AM GMT
Khari and Husnapur (Vidisha), Madhya Pradesh
On the roof of her damaged house where heaps of muck and wet debris lie around, 15-year-old Deepika was busy drying handfuls of grains. "All the containers which had the stocks of grain to be used throughout the year have been swept away in the floodwaters. It is going to be a tough year," she said as tears welled up in her eyes.
A couple of metres away from Deepika's house in Khari village of Vidisha district, 65-year-old Kapoori Bai was still in a state of shock. "All our household belongings are drowned in Betwa (river). The only thing we have are the clothes on our backs," she told Gaon Connection in his frail voice.
Ramraj Lodhi, a paddy farmer in the flood-hit village, was still assessing his losses when on August 23 when Madhya Gaon Connection visited his Khari village, about 75 kilometres from the state capital Bhopal.
"Not just the paddy crop, even the fertile top soil on my land has been washed away exposing the rocky ground beneath," Lodhi said. The farmer worried that it would take several seasons to get anything to grow back on the land.
At least five districts in Madhya Pradesh faced massive floods that inundated more than a thousand villages and at least five deaths have been recorded by the state government so far. The districts that are most severely hit by floods include Vidisha, Morena, Bhind, Sheopur and Guna.
In the past one week, the state has received extremely heavy rainfall leading to losses worth several crores. Rescue, relief and rehabilitation works are still underway.
As per the India Meteorological Department [IMD], Madhya Pradesh has registered an excess rainfall of 91 per cent from August 18 to August 24 [see Map: State-wise rainfall between August 18 and August 22, 2022].
Apart from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat have also received very heavy rainfall in the past one week, which has resulted in all the major rivers in the region being in spate and flooding thousands of villages.
Between August 18 and August 24, Rajasthan reported a rainfall departure of 120 per cent, whereas Gujarat had an excess rainfall of 60 per cent.
Map: State-wise rainfall between August 18 and August 22, 2022
Houses, foodgrain, crops – all swept away
When Gaon Connection visited the flood-hit villages in the Vidisha district on August 23, waters from the Betwa river and its tributaries were all around as far as the eyes could see.
Hargyan Lodhi, a 36-year-old paddy farmer from Husnapur village said that he lost his investment worth Rs 70,000 in the kharif crop that was destroyed in the flood waters from the Nevan river, a tributary of the Betwa, that flowed just a few metres away from his field.
"I don't know what to do. My entire paddy crop is rotting in flood waters while my personal belongings in my household are damaged. It's a loss on multiple fronts," Lodhi, a resident of Vidhisha's Husnapur village, told Gaon Connection.
Similarly Lodhi's neighbour, Gopal Singh Raghuvanshi, who had cultivated soybean on his five bighas, told Gaon Connection that the losses this year were unprecedented.
"Although there is some portion of the crop which gets damaged every year due to extreme weather conditions, this year the losses are absolute. My entire soybean crop is submerged and destroyed," Raghuvanshi said.
Initial assessment shows extent of damage
As per a statement issued by the District Magistrate's office in Vidisha, residents of a total of 371 villages in the district are reeling from floods. It also informed that a total of 13,165 people in the district are dependent on the food supplies provided by the administration.
"2,084 houses in the district are totally damaged by the floods while 3,879 houses are partially damaged. Also, 233 embankments built around the ponds in the district are also damaged. The estimate for the loss in monetary terms is pegged at Rs 3,75,85,000," the statement noted.
The magistrate's office also highlighted that orders have been issued to the concerned authorities to conduct sanitisation drives in the villages as soon as the flood waters recede and to organise health camps to check the outbreak of diseases. However, so far there is no mention of the agricultural losses suffered by the farmers in the initial assessment conducted by the district administration.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also toured the flood affected districts of Vidisha and Rajgarh on August 24.
"The water has just begun receding but it will take more days for the flood water to exit the villages completely," he said while talking to the reporters following his visit.
"Took stock of the situation by taking an aerial tour of the flood affected areas in the state. Citizens need not worry, we are all together in this hour of challenge. Me and 'Team MP' will leave no stone unturned in the relief and rescue work,"the chief minister also posted on Twitter on August 23.
Depression in Arabian sea, BoB fueling heavy rainfall
When Gaon Connection contacted the IMD's regional office in Bhopal, it was learnt that the formation of 'circular weather systems' led to the excessive rainfall in the region.
"The formation of a cycle circular motion which travelled from the Bay of Bengal towards Rajasthan passing through Madhya Pradesh has resulted in such heavy rainfall in the state which swelled up rivers and caused floods,"Harishankar Pandey, a weather scientist at Bhopal-based regional centre of the IMD said.
"What is special about this year is that such weather systems used to pass through a small portion of Madhya Pradesh but this time, the system passed through the central parts of the state. Also, multiple low pressure areas and depressions in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal impacted the local weather as well," he added.
The official further informed that low pressure conditions in the Arabian Sea and the depression in the Bay of Bengal are seen to be so intense after almost 50 years.
"Last time such depressions were formed in the Arabian sea was during the 1970s," Pandey said.