In the year since a landslide crushed the tiny tribal village of Malin in Pune district, the survivors have been rebuilding their lives with reconstruction, marriage – and remarriage. The village has seen 23 marriages and remarriages.
The landslide, which wiped out the village square, killed more than 150 people. Among them was the family of Sunil Zanzare, 35, who lost his wife and other relatives. A small-time farmer, Zanzare had gone to the fields to inspect his crop of rice and thus escaped death.
Three months ago, Zanzare married Asha, a resident of Bota in Ahmednagar district. “It was becoming difficult for me to manage everything on my own. When my uncles asked me to consider marrying again, I did not agree at first. However I reconsidered as I realised I would not be able to live alone,” he said.
Dilip Lembe, 45, married Manisha, 26, of Tambe village in December. Lembe had lost his wife, mother and two children in the tragedy and had initially been reluctant to remarry. “But how long could I have stayed alone?” he said.
Sameer Lembe, 42, married a girl from Junnar taluka in the month of September.
Among the 23 weddings Malin has seen in the year, one was entirely within the village. Ashwini Pote, 19, who lost her entire family, married fellow villager Dinesh Pote. The bride in one other wedding was from the village; in the other 21, men from Malin married women from other villages. Many villagers connect the spurt in marriages to the sudden affluence of the survivors. “Each of the survivors have received substantial monetary help from the government,” said a villager in Adivare, a neighbouring village. The compensation has been up to Rs 8.5 lakh for every deceased person, comprising Rs 5 lakh from the state, Rs 2 lakh from the Centre and the rest from the tehsildar fund.
Others say the trend is more due to the need for companionship. Digambar Bhalchi, the sarpanch of the village, said the weddings started within four months of the landslide, with the last one having taken place somewhere in May. “People who have lost everything needed a next generation, people left with little children felt the need for a mother,” he said.
Bhalchin and others, however, complain about the slow pace of rehabilitation. With the marriages the number of people living in the temporary sheds have increased, constraining space. “Around 15 of the villagers were given employment in other parts of the district, so they left with their wives. But most of the survivors are living in cramped conditions,”he said.