Two days after heavy rain washed away many of the houses in Navabharpura, on the banks of Mesri river in Godhra, as many as 150 families have been rendered homeless. Many lost their belongings, including key documents, and live in filth as the authorities are yet to survey the extent of the damage.
“The month of Ramadan saved our lives Monday morning, as we woke up very early, and were able to save ourselves when the water rushed into our homes. We don’t even have a penny to buy something for our children on Eid tomorrow,” said Lazmeen Sheikh (45), a widow who is raising three children, and made a living by ironing clothes. Her iron and the ironing table also got swept away.
Among the flood victims is Usman Chand, famously known as “Chand Dhobi”, who lived in the Navabharpura shanties, and claims to know PM Narendra Modi since his pracharak days in Godhra in the 1970s. Chand and the PM last met in 2008, when Modi celebrated Republic Day in Godhra. Jainal Malek, another victim, said the people started cleaning up on their own when no one from the civic body turned up.
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“This flood is devastating, we lost most of our things, all the people here are in very bad condition,” says Chand, now in his late 70s.
Amina Sheikh (78) was seated on a broken charpoy outside the rubble of her home, sobbing, “ I have lost everything, even all my documents. I was running a small shop here at my place, as I am not able to walk due to problems in my legs, I lost that shop too. I almost lost my life when the water came suddenly as I am not able to walk, but a few boys pulled me out of the water.”
Iqbal Sheikh, a teacher who initiated the relief work said, “We haven’t received any help from the authorities yet, and have started a community kitchen for the people, as there is nothing left with the people here. People also lost the grains they stored. We won’t be able to continue the kitchen for long, as we are also running out of money. Everyday we cook twice for nearly 200 people. Members from both the Hindu and Muslim communities are eating together here.”
Panchmahal district collector P Bharati told The Indian Express, “I have made three teams: revenue, Nagarpalika and technical, to conduct a survey. We have started cleaning work in most of the area, and the revenue team is also conducting a survey of the people who have lost their houses. Once assessments are done, we will sanction grants and provided financial support to affected families.