By Zaidul Haque, TwoCircles.net,
Kolkata: US based charity organisation Indian Muslim Relief and Charities (IMRC) distributed food and other relief materials to the people affected with the recent flood in parts of West Bengal. IMRC volunteers distributed relief materials in East Medinipur and Hooghly districts of the state.
A food distribution camp at a flood affected village in Hooghly district in West Bengal.
In the first week of August, heavy downpour caused the rise in water level, forcing the release of water from Damodar valley Corporation (DVC) as well, that flooded large parts of at least 12 districts in the state. The districts of Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan, Bankura, South 24 Parganas and East Medinipur were worst affected.
In East Medinipur district, IMRC volunteers reached out to the worst affected villages under Tamluk police station. IMRC sister organisation, Hyderabad based Sahayata Trust contacted and collaborated with a local grass root organisation Jabbaria Educational and Welfare Trust for relief work.
According to the Disaster Management Department of State Government, the death toll due to recent flood was nearly 100. While 107, 808 houses have been completely destroyed, around 368, 238 houses have been partly damaged, affecting more than six million of the population. What is more fatal for poor villagers is that their crops covering over 797, 848 hectares of land have been completely washed away.
As some of the villages are still submerged in water, often people had to stand in knee dip water in queue to get the food aid in East Medinipur district in West Bengal.
Government’s Disaster Management Department has set up over 2500 relief camps for the poor affected villagers in different parts of the 12 districts. Some parts of the districts are still under water, two weeks later. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has demanded special package for flood relief from the central government after inspecting the area.
IMRC volunteers are working in some of the worst affected villages since August 12. Maulana Sk. Arshad of Jabbaria Educational and Welfare Trust informed TwoCircles.net that most of the villagers Rajnagar are very poor and are Muslims. He said that IMRC contacted him and on their directions, he immediately distributed foods kits containing bread toast, toasted rice (Chura), puffed rice (murhi), biscuits, basmati rice, drinking water, etc. to over 1000 poor villagers.
53 years old Akbar Ali expressed his gratitude and thanked the Almighty Allah for the immediate help, within days of the disaster. It should be pointed here that as the Rajnagar village of East Medinipur was completely cut off from the mainland due to flood, no relief could reach them on time.
IMRC volunteers were the first one who reached the village after hiring a boat to help the needy people. In fact as the volunteers reached the village on August 12 for the first time with food aid, it was still submerged in water. Villagers had to stand in knee dip water to receive the food kit.
A makeshift bamboo bridge to help cross the water logged areas at important locations.
IMRC volunteers similarly also reached Baharjoli and Putputi villages of the East Medinipur district. In each of these villages, more than 200 people (400 in two villages) got the food kits. Several of the residents in these villages are non-Muslims and they too equally benefited from the aid distributed.
Sabita Mondal of Putputia village thanked the IMRC volunteers for the help the villagers got on time.
Similarly, IMRC took help from a local news paper organisation and distributed food and relief materials in six of the villages under Khanakul police station in Hooghly district. Under the supervision of Shafiqul Islam, an editor of `Khanakul Barta,’ IMRC volunteers distributed aid through the Hyderabad office of Sahayata Trust.
IMRC volunteers identified the worst affected villages that had not got any relief as such from government or other organisations due to connectivity problem. They distributed the food kits in Marokhana, Dhannoghori, Ghospur, Hirapur, Arandi-1 and Pole-2.
More than one thousand families in Hooghly districts received aid from IMRC, including food kits, comprising of rice, pulses, potatoes, sugar, biscuit and other dry foods were packed and distributed from August 11 itself in villages of Hooghly district.
Due to transportation problem and continuing water logging, movements were slow and it took over a week to distribute food kits in both the districts.
IMRC volunteers travelling on boat to reach out to villages cut off from the mainland due to flood.
Besides food, IMRC volunteers are also distributing tarpaulin to in East Medinipur district to 50 villagers to help them rebuild their houses in the last week of August. IMRC local volunteer Maulana Arshad informed TCN that they have identified the 550 needy families and have already distributed tarpaulin to over 250 families, while the remaining would be distributed on Sunday. Like the food aid, the beneficiaries included several poor non-Muslim families from these affected villages.
As most of the houses in these villages are either made of mud or stalks and straws, the tarpaulin protects them from being washed away easily and generally lasts 4-5 years.
Meanwhile, after almost two weeks of closing down, schools have finally reopened the poor students from these villages are worried as the flood has also washed away their books and uniforms.