Displaced by Yamuna, ignored by Delhi

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) The Yamuna river in Delhi, which resembled a drain only a week ago, swelled up after the rains, breached its banks this week and flowed again with the fury of a river in spate, rendering many who had built shelters on its banks homeless.

Though authorities claim they have been providing aid to those affected by the rising river water in east Delhi, many residents complain they have received precious little.

The water level in the Yamuna here is expected to reach 207.7 metres, the highest the river has risen in 35 years, a government official said.

In 1978, the river flowed at 207.49 metres.

"Authorities are active only during the presence of the media. When it comes to finding a solution, they backtrack. We have been ignored. We have to wait for hours for help," said 40-year-old Rajeshwari Sharma, whose thatched hut near ITO (Income Tax Office) was washed away Wednesday.

Talking to IANS, Rajeshwari, mother of three, said: "I shifted to this relief tent around 9 a.m. today (Wednesday) and the children and I have since had nothing to eat. I am diabetic."

Taking a serious view of the unprecedented rise in the Yamuna's water level, the Delhi government Tuesday decided to set up around 900 tents for displaced people.

However, people said there were not enough tents to house all those displaced.

Around 15 tents have been erected near Kashmere Gate around which streets dogs swarm, as the belongings of people lie strewn.

"Flood destroys our nurseries every year. Our means of livelihood gets washed away. This time, we had just planted fresh flowers for our nurseries. The entire nursery is now submerged," said Rukhsar, a 20-year-old woman, who maintains a nursery on the low-lying riverine area along the Yamuna.

"There are no food and water facilities. Also, no services for rehabilitation after the flood are in place," Dharamvir Bhagat, a resident of Usman Welfare Association in Kashmere Gate said.

"Every year, it is the same story. People have become used to it to such an extent that they have become indifferent. All they care about is a roof to protect themselves, they no longer expect any other facilities," he added.

Satnam Singh, district warden, Delhi civil defence told IANS: "The camp here (at ITO) has started from Tuesday. People living in these tents are mostly agricultural labourers. As of now there are 43 tents, we will be needing eight more. Many families are still near the areas where water levels have reached dangerous levels."

The tents were put up jointly by Delhi Civil Defence and Delhi Disaster Management Authority.

Satnam Singh also said that two water tanks had been made available for the 277 people living in tents at ITO.

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