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Volunteers helping with distribution of relief materials. Photo: Anagha Deshpande.

In flood-hit Belagavi, relief efforts put politics to shame

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After the huge political ‘nataka’, Karnataka is now going through another severe crisis — the floods, which have claimed more than 60 lives and left a trail of destruction and devastation, and many homeless.

As people in some parts are hit by landslides, top political leaders of the state from BJP, Congress and JD(S) are busy mudslinging, but a few local leaders around Belagavi district in North Karnataka are doing their bit for the people.

BJP MLA Balachandra Jarkiholi, who represents Arabhavi constituency in Belagavi district, is one of the leaders who has won people’s hearts with his work in Gokak taluk.

“Balachandra anna is the only MLA who has visited our village (Chigadolli). He not only visited our area, but was on the ground during the whole rescue operation when our village went under water,” said Anil Girani, a resident of Chigadolli village.

Villagers said that Jarkiholi has been constantly visiting them in relief camps and helping them with all the necessary arrangements.

Also read: This relief camp is home away from home for 250 flood-hit in Belagavi

“Balachandra sir is distributing food, clothes, medicines and what not. He is trying his best to help us out even though his own house is flooded,” said another villager.

Recently, the MLA had gone on record to say that he will topple the BJP government of Yediyurappa “if we fail to build houses”. “It’s our responsibility to provide you houses. Let me say this on record. If we fail to build houses then we will topple the government.”

Like him, on the other side of the aisle, Congress MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar, who represents Belagavi Rural, has been visiting flood-hit regions for the last 15 days and is trying to pool in relief funds from different organisations.

Talking to The Federal, she said, “This is the time when all political parties in the state should come together and work for our people. We are not human beings if we seek a political opportunity in the current situation.”

She also appreciated Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa for announcing Rs 5 lakhs for people who have lost their houses. “I had written to Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) to announce ₹2-3 lakhs per family but our Chief Minister has announced a good amount, I appreciate him for that.”

Also read: Swept by Karnataka floods, Belagavi weavers drown further in debt

Hebbalkar is of the opinion that things won’t happen overnight as there is a lot to be done and the state government should be given time.

On the ongoing relief measures, she said, “My office is working tirelessly. I am so thankful for everybody, starting from NGOs, my relatives and different sanghatans, who are helping us. Today, not less than 4-5 huge containers with relief materials are in a godown. It is good to see the compassion among the people.”

Relief materials kept in a godown. Photo: Anagha Deshpande.

A little south, another BJP MLA Abhay Patil representing Belagavi South has taken quite a few initiatives to help people tackle the floods.

Around 15,000 people in the region are being vaccinated to prevent and dengue and chikungunya diseases. Also, volunteers under him have put potassium permanganate in 1,500 drinking water wells to prevent other water borne diseases.

“Right after the heavy rains hit the district, he was the first person to set up teams to clean up clogged areas. His team with 300 party workers were on the field for seven consecutive days,” said Ramesh Joshi, a Belgaum south resident.

Patil echoed Hebbalkar, saying it is a time when all political parties should stick together.

RSS too does its bit

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which is popular as ideological mentor of the BJP and other active Hindu outfits, during the floods, was active in flood relief and rescue work. Just in Gokak and Chikkodi taluks, which are the worst affected region there are about 1,300 volunteers.

The Sangh is also gathering relief materials from across the state and distributing to the needy. As on Sunday (August 18), RSS volunteers had rescued 241 people in Belagavi.

The RSS godown located in Shastrinagar in Belagavi, has collected material like food, clothes, stoves, cookers, and other items. They had the assistance of 16 ex-military men in the relief work.

“We don’t ask only Sangh volunteers to work. Anybody and everybody can come do their bit,” said Krishnanad Kamat, chief supervisor of the RSS wing in Belagavi.

Also read: In flood-hit Kodagu, landslide adds to coffee planters’ woes

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