Leh: Tsering Angma, a
widow, is constructing her own house along with other women
labourers in Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir. It's nearly a year
since she lost everything in flash floods, but she is still
picking up the pieces.
"So far I have received Rs.230,000 from the government. The money
came late, that is why I started building my house so late," said
Angma, 39, who has two children and works as a coolie for her
bread and butter," she added.
She said she couldn't have built the house in Solar Colony - where
victims of the flash floods were relocated - without government
On Aug 6 last year, all hell broke loose in Leh Valley when a
cloudburst occurred, killing 190 people in the floods that
followed. These washed away many villages in Leh, among them
Angma's Tashi Gyastal hamlet.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced an ex-gratia relief of
Rs.100,000 each to the next-of-kin of each of the deceased from
the PM's National Relief Fund and Rs.50,000 each to the seriously
injured. The state government also announced Rs.200,000 relief for
each of the families of those killed.
"Within a month we got a temporary house in Solar Colony and for
three months we got support from the government for food and other
things. After that we had to start working," Angma told a visiting
About 150 families have been rehabilitated in Solar Colony,
including ex-serviceman Tundup Tsewang who says he invested his
entire saving in building a house in Tashi Gyastal.
"I didn't lose any family member. But I have no money, I depend on
government aid to build my house. For day-to-day expenses, I have
to depend on my pension," said 43-year-old Tsewang who had to
start from scratch. He hasn't received the entire compensation
The nightmare was hard to bear for Dorjay Namgail, 31, who was in
Delhi when floods hit the village killing his father. His mother,
wife and one-year-old child escaped death as they were stuck inth
debris that the water couldn't take away.
"I lost my father. My mother hasn't fully recovered yet.
Thankfully, my wife and child are back to normal," said Namgail,
who works in the army. He says their morale is down as "we have
lost everything, including the house where I invested about Rs.1.2
Though aid is coming, it is not sufficient to complete the entire
construction work, say residents.
Mud bricks cost Rs.7 per piece and labour charges are Rs.300 per
day. For 1,000 bricks, one has to shell out Rs.8,000 and Rs.2,000
for transportation. Just laying the foundation and making a 12x10
room costs Rs.200,000.
The villagers are clueless about how much and from where the fund
is actually coming. When asked, most say: "The government is
Village headman Tundup Tsweang said he spoke to Jammu and Kashmir
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah about the aid.
"I even spoke to (Congress leader) Rahul Gandhi about the funds. I
told him that 14 people haven't got aid yet. He gave me his e-mail
id and his office used to call us every week to find out whether
people have got the money. Now only five people are left," he
But life may never be the same for these people.
Tashi Dolma, 58, who lost her husband a long time ago, used to
have comfortable life thanks to her big house, which she would
rent out, earning about Rs.3,500 every month. But now she and her
daughter have no source of livelihood.
Konchok Namgyal, from Sankar village in Leh district, said the
flood swept away their crops and cattle, leaving fields covered
with stones and boulders. "We didn't get much help from the
government except that they sent bulldozers to clear the fields
and fodder for cattle," said the 70-year-old.
This IANS correspondent met two National Disaster Management
Authority (NDMA) officers, who were there to inspect whether the
villagers are using the right technique to build the house, but
they refused to comment.
The villagers are still using traditional methods of building
The "dark clouds make us uncomfortable, but no matter what
precautions you take, you are helpless in front of such natural
calamity. Throughout the year we did a lot of puja because only
god can save us from it," said Phunchok, who works as a driver.
(Arpana can be contacted at email@example.com)