Har-Tar (Sopore): Just on the edge of this village, two young women wash utensils in floodwaters with a latrine a few yards away. This is not an isolated case as the entire village of 500 households has been utilizing the floodwaters for daily use for the past two weeks. Locals say throat infection is on rise among the inhabitants yet no government official has visited this flood affected area since September 7.
“Though we know it will affect our health, we have no option but to consume the floodwaters. We drink the water and utilize it for daily purpose,” Bashir Ahmad, a local man, told Kashmir Reader.
On September 24, the government had sent a water tanker for this village. However, driver of the tanker asked the villagers to wade through knee-deep floodwaters to fetch a bucket of water, which irked the locals.
The same day, a few families volunteered to fetch potable water in 1000-litre tank on a tractor from Hygam, around 8 kilometers from this village. As soon as people learnt about it, scores of women rushed out of their houses with utensils to collect water. Most of the women could be seen returning empty handed.
“A bucket of water can’t mitigate our needs. So we have to utilize floodwaters. I boil the floodwater and my entire family consumes it,” said Aisha, while shouting on the top of her voice to seek attention of a man who dispensed water among people.
A local pharmacist Abdul Hamid said that people have fallen sick after consuming the floodwaters. “We had water in nearby tank. But that got finished in few days, and water can’t be stored unless electricity is restored here. Mostly, I have received patients complaining about throat infection. It’s a serious issue but nobody comes forward to help us,” Hamid told Kashmir Reader.
Water is not the only issue. The locals have to travel around two kilometers in a boat to relieve themselves, as sanitary facilities have got submerged. “The floods have devastated ripened paddy fields. It will have an impact not only on us but the entire Kashmir. Now the same rice fields are used for defecation as our latrines are submerged. We could have managed but women especially have to face problems,” said Diwalar Ahmad, a higher secondary school student.