Updates from GOONJ on the Bihar flood situation

India Water Portal
Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 10:29



Traditionally millions of people in this country survive in winters by burning wood and dry grass (mainly husk of leftovers of crops) BUT this time as the floods washed away the crops and uprooted millions of trees where's the question of leftover dry husk ??. With little resistance left in their bodies, much less to cover themselves and without a proper shelter, the calamity is only becoming worse every day for millions of people. While we, sitting miles away from the affected region, think Bihar was flooded months back and things would have settled down by now.. but come here and you will find hardly anything has settled down. With most agencies having winded up their work and relief camps being closed, people have been forced to go back to their villages without any infrastructure or support system.

In the meanwhile winters have also become a good publicity stunt for many political people, organisations and NGOs here. While some people claim themselves as the biggest agency in the media by providing just 500 blankets, district officers call some people to their office to give one blanket for each family on the basis of their cast and on Below Poverty Line (BPL) listing. Imagine the irony. while the floods didn't differentiate between the poor and the poorest the govt. blanket does. It's as if the not so poor, even after losing everything, can survive the winters because he is not in the poorest category. In the last ten years of GOONJ's work we have been advocating among city people, to think of winters as a disaster for countless people who do not have enough to cover themselves.

In the past we have shared stories on how people even dig a pit to sleep due to non-availability of clothes to survive in winters. I am just coming back from some remote villages of Kalahandi (Orissa) and after all these visits one understands how little one is doing. Imagine countless women with no blouse or petticoat, only in a thin sari. When you ask them how do you manage in winters they tell you- they loosen up their sari and cover themselves with the extra length !!! This is just to highlight that it's not only the flood-affected parts of Bihar but across the country the demand for woolens and blankets is much higher than supply. The regular support from many of you helps us continue our bit in Bihar and in other parts of the country. In the meanwhile Orissa also saw one of the worst floods in the last 50 years in 2008. Due to inadequate media attention and with more focus on the Bihar floods, this disaster got very little attention from the agencies and the corporate sector.

Do contact Ruchika on ruchikagoonj@gmail.com or Priyanka on priyankagoonj@gmail.com if you want to organize a collection camp for the woolen/blankets/clothes etc in your residential/work area.

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