Flood-affected women of Sakarapura, Saptari filling sacks with sand to build embankment along the banks of Khado River on Sunday.
SAPTARI, August 20: Flood wreaked havoc in their settlement last Saturday. Life is yet to come to normalcy. In lack of proper shelter and enough food to eat, the flood victims of Sakarapura are struggling to keep pace with life.
However, they are more worried about the embankment rather than their house. Building an embankment may save them from another flood while building a house cannot prevent floods they say. Amid hunger and all the inconvenience, the locals are working hard to build a strong embankment along the banks of Khado River that devastated their lives.
“Monsoon is yet to stay here for some time. So we are extremely worried that it might once again flood our settlements,” said Ramesh Mukhiya, a local of Sakarapura. “We need to build an embankment along the banks of the Khado River before building our house.”
The flood has fully damaged around 200 houses in Sakarapura. Over 1000 houses were inundated by the floods. Khado River is around 200 meters away from the settlement and the embankment has been almost destroyed.
“Locals of Sakarapura are working day and night for rebuilding the embankment. They fear that another flood would completely devastate their settlements. So they do not want to waste time,” said Shivanath Yadav, a social campaigner. “Not only men, women are also working with equal dedication,” he added.
In fact, women are even more driven to the job. They are not only contributing labor to for building the embankment, but also sharing whatever foodstuff they receive from relief distributors to the people working on constructing the embankment. They are seen sharing noodles, namkeens, biscuits and beaten rice with all the workers.
“Building the embankment is more important than slamming the government and indulging in politics,” said Radhadevi Khanga, a flood victim. “As soon as the rain stopped we got to work without wasting time. We all got together and decided to build the embankment because it’s very important,” she added.
From 200 to 300 people have been working at the site on a daily basis. The number of women workers is slightly higher than that of men, according to Khanga. “Both are working hard, however, it feels that women are more dedicated,” she noted.
According to Laddu Khaga, another local of Sakarapura, the embankment building has received support from every quarter. The local administration is coordinating to its best, he said.
“First the administration officials fetched necessary tools and materials for building the embankment. Then, the locals took up the construction job. It’s going on pretty well,” he said. He stated that the administration provided sacks, bamboo, stones, and excavator.
“Despite being hit by floods, people’s enthusiasm is intact. This is because of genuine support from the government staffs and officials. Locals are hopeful that they can build the embankment,” Laddu said.
Meanwhile, a local youth Niraj Jha remarked that the entire village is at risk of flood. If the embankment is not in place soon, it can sweep the entire settlement of Sakarapura, he stated.
“The earlier embankment is now of no use. The river has also slightly changed its course and this means, our settlement is more prone to flooding. The entire settlement might be swept away if Khado River is flooded again,” he elaborated. “So we all are very serious.
Locals feel that should have actually focused on the embankment much earlier. Even the government was equally apathetic. If the embankment was monitored and taken care of on time, even Saturday’s flood would not have done much harm to their settlement, they believe.
“We were worried. But we did not pay attention to repairing the embankment. This time, we are putting all efforts to make it strong,” said a local of Sakarapura Ashish Mishra. “We have understood that waiting for the government to do everything does not work. If we want our safety, we have to do something too,” he added.
He further stated that the lack of locals’ interest and participation in such works actually let government bodies and contractors to do corruption. So, learning from the people of Sakarapura, people of other flood affected areas should also initiate similar initiatives, he suggested.
“Our practice is that we only wait for the government to do everything. But when calamities fall on us, it simply falls on us, not on the government,” he stated. “So, when and where possible, locals must take things in hands and do things in coordination with government bodies,” he added. Locals are hopeful that they will be able to complete the construction of the embankment very soon.