Our Activities - Social
Maharashtra Flood Relief 2005- 2006
The rivers Krishna, Godavari and Koyna swelled due to the incessant rains during July, 2005. People became aware of the swelling rivers and promptly moved to higher grounds. They left behind homes with some bare necessities that could suffice for a few days. Unfortunately, the rains continued for more than a fortnight. This onslaught of Mother Nature’s fury left in its wake agricultural fields flooded with water, rendering them unproductive for at least a year and homes, schools and buildings in utter ruins.
The Ramakrishna Math, Pune immediately began primary relief operations in some of the worst-affected areas. Volunteers started aiding in the operations, despite constant rain. Dry food packets consisting of rice flakes and such edibles which could be consumed without cooking, were distributed as most of the people seeking shelter in make-shift camps had no facility to cook.
The extent of the damage caused was immense. Our survey teams captured some of the heart-rending scenes of the poor families on film. It was indeed pathetic scene. Most of the affected people were of very meager financial status. They had built small houses on the banks of the river, and hence were permanently displaced.
Most of the other NGOs and the Government agencies were distributing cash and other articles which could not last long. With the approaching cold season, we decided to distribute warm blankets, chaddars etc. also additionally.
After short primary relief missions, we provided extended relief in the districts of Kolhapur, Sangli and Raigad, in the form of distribution of saris, dhotis, blankets, bed-sheets, rice, wheat, vegetables etc. During our visits to the submerged places, we happened to notice many villages which were very inaccessible and hence no Governmental or NGO had ventured to help.
Three such places, Pethmap, Ramoshiwadi and Kumbharwadi, in Taluk Chiplun, Dist. Ratnagiri, were visited by relief teams with our monks during a survey undertaken to investigate future assistance to be provided to flood victims. In Pethmap, we saw that the Marathi Middle School was severely damaged by the recent rains and river water. Doors and windows had been torn apart and furniture had been swept away. The school had stopped functioning for a few weeks over this mishap. This is the only school for children from Pethmap and the surrounding villages. Ramoshiwadi and Kumbarwadi are two hamlets within a short distance of each other, located near Pethmap. The economically backward community here lives chiefly by working as hired agricultural labour or by fishing. Most of them had lost their homes and were continuing their lives by staying in tents.
We appealed to the public and generous donors, here, in India as well as abroad. With the help of the Headquarters, we started the reconstruction of the school mentioned above and also started work on building new houses for the flood affected victims. Under the ‘Build Your Own House’ scheme, we provided required building material and completed the construction of 45 houses (4 are still under construction) measuring approximately 300 sq feet each. The school was earlier rebuilt within a short frame of time, with students having access to new walls, flooring, new black boards, tables etc.
On 12th May, 2006, Srimat Swami Gautamanandaji along with monks from Ramakrishna Math, Pune, visited the newly built school in Pethmap. Later in Kumbarwadi, the monks visited the new houses, placed a photograph of the Holy Trio and did a brief Puja in each house. A function was organized in Chiplun that was well attended by the local populace. Swami Gautamanandaji presided over the function and handed over the keys to each flood affected family whose house had been newly built. Talks by the invitees, including the monks and the local District Collector marked the occasion. A Bhajan session by the local volunteers concluded the function. The happy faces of the recipients and their blessings in the name of Sri Ramakrishna were our mementos of the occasion.