Kelam-Gund – a hamlet wiped out by raging Vaishaw
33 houses washed away, 150 razed to rubble
Wahab Naik (65), a frail old man is desperately trying to locate where his house stood only to find it has been washed away by the flashfloods caused by the roaring Vaishaw Nallah. Naik’s paddy land, a sole source of his income was also swept away leaving him, his ailing wife and mentally challenged son to crave for bread and butter.
The flashfloods that hit Kelam-Gund village of Kulgam district on September 5, completely washed away around 33 houses and hundreds of kanals of paddy and orchard land as the Vaishaw Nallah changed its course. 150 more houses were reduced to rubble as the village depicts the scenes of devastation all around.
“This is the place where my house stood but now I cannot even find any sign of it,” says Naik pointing towards a spot where from the Nallah is flowing now.
Naik says that he is left with nothing as all his belongings and cattle have been swept way. “I cannot even spot the rubble of my house and cowshed as the Nallah flows amidst it now,” a visibly shocked Naik says.
“My paddy land has also been washed away and the Nallah with huge pebbles all around is flowing right through it,” says Naik.
Naik said he alongwith his family were trapped in a local Jamia Masjid for nine days only to be rescued by the youth from the nearby Ashmuji village.
“My son is mentally challenged and wife is ailing. Tell me where should we go now and what should we eat,” says Naik as he broke down. Naik himself is not able to walk properly and carries stick all along.
Likewise, everyone in the village has his own tragic story to narrate.
Hafeeza, 45 widower of Ghulam Muhammad Bhat is putting up in a makeshift accommodation at the Primary Health Centre (PHC) Kelam.
“My house alongwith belongings were washed away and we cannot even rebuild the house there as the Nallah flows through that piece of land now,” says Hafeeza. She said the paddy land, the only livelihood of her family, consisting of two sons in their teens and a daughter of marriageable age was also swept away.
Hafeeza says they were trapped amidst the gushing Vaishaw waters and were rescued by the youth from Ashmuji. “It was really a horror and the death was inevitable as the frightening Vaishaw waters washed away everything that came its way. We owe our life to the youth from Ashmuji village who risked their own lives to save ours,” says Hafeeza. She said that youth used electric wires as ropes to rescue us from a school building which also collapsed later.
Javaid Ahmad Dar, a BA student while narrating the flood horror says; “Though some of the villagers had abandoned their homes and shifted to other villages but most of them including women, children and elderly were trapped in a Jamia Masjid and a school. Youth of the village were doing everything possible to stop raging Vaishaw waters from entering the village putting logs of popular trees, gunny sacks in its way but it broke all the barriers and washed away everything that came its way”.
Dar says that the youth of the village as well as from Ashmuji managed to rescue all the trapped people. “It was a miracle that despite this devastation there was no loss of life in the village. Even a 125 year old man was rescued,” says Dar.
Pointing towards a Nallah, Dar said, “At least eleven shops including grocery and medical store were here, but now you can yourself see it has turned into a Nallah.” “Only a portion of a wreckage of Government Middle School where many villagers had taken shelter is visible”.
The floods washed away even the main Kelam-Gund bridge and Gund bridge connecting the village with Kelam; as well as Ashmuji-Gund bridge and people have to tread several miles through the Nallah to reach their destructed houses.
Shabir Ahmad, a government teacher’s house is among the few that stands in the village. However, despite being fully concrete it too is not safe for living as many of its walls have developed cracks. Shabir while describing the village pre-floods says; “This village was most scenic and its mesmerizing beauty and fresh waters used to lure people to this place but now it stands ruined.”
Shabir says that the village was known for fresh water springs but even that has turned into a cesspool full of dirt and stink. “This place is not worth living now and even the houses that stand are not safe and can collapse any time,” says Khalid, another government teacher.
“Even if government decides to pay compensation for the reconstruction of the houses, which seem unlikely though, where would they, as the land also has been washed away,” Khalid said.