Hundreds of dead chicken float about in the knee-deep muddy waters that are left of the flood in this village. The smell is nauseating, but the 350 households living here have bigger problems to tackle. There is no drinking water. No food for babies.
While relief operations have been largely focused on submerged neighbourhoods around the city centre, this cluster of hamlets behind an inundated railway station on the outskirts is yet to appear on any radar.
With the first signs of the outbreak of a communicable disease in the area, the health department has dispatched a team to assess the situation. Director Health Services Saleem-ur-Rehman said, “We will do everything to prevent an outbreak”. State Surveillance Officer Dr Rehaana said there are only mild cases of diarrhoea. “It isn’t cholera. But if the poultry birds are allowed to rot, it will be trouble,” she said.
Several villagers in the area ran poultry farms. When floods hit the area, thousands of chicken died and were washed out of the coops.
The Bonpora village is around eight-km from Nowgam bypass in Srinagar. The road to the village is still under water. Some local volunteers were seen distributing cannisters of drinking water, biscuits, packaged dry milk, electrolyte packets and medicine. The villagers almost snatched the water bottles from them. “We have no water to drink for days,” said Sheikh Mohammad Yaqoob, the village head. “Nobody has come here all these days”.
“There was no time to deal with this problem of dead chicken,” he added.
Several villagers complained of abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and sore throat.
Nearby hamlet Chak was also badly-hit. Villagers didn’t understand the effects rotting chicken can have on their health till a doctor accompanying a relief team warned them. They have decided to clean up soon. “Please tell the government to send us some drinking water and food,” said Farooq Ahmad Sheikh, a villager. “We will not die of a disease but of thirst”.