Sending out a call for help, international NGO Save the Children estimates that around 7,50,000 children are in desperate need of clean water, medical care and food in the flood-hit districts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
If help doesn’t reach fast, there is an imminent threat of an outbreak of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases that will further risk the lives of millions of children and others, the NGO said.
“Thirteen per cent of all under-five children in Andhra Pradesh are already acutely malnourished. The high levels of acute malnutrition in this region mean that children are far more likely to die of diarrhoea and acute respiratory disease -the biggest killers of children in India,” Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children, said.
P. Raghu of ActionAid, another international NGO working for the flood victims in both Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, added: “Our flood rescue teams are overwhelmed. Thousands are still languishing without food and water.”
According to Save the Children, over 2,75,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, leaving behind everything. Two hundred villages have been completely submerged. “Children are most vulnerable in any emergency and the floods come on top of an already dire situation. This is a crisis on top of an emergency,” Mr. Chandy said.
“Around 3,50,000 children under five die annually of diarrhoea in India and this time we fear the worst. We need corporate houses, individuals, everyone to come forward to strengthen our efforts on the ground. Any little help that we receive will ensure that one more child will be safe, healthy and protected.”
Vijaywada, Oct. 6 — The furious river waters sheared for days through farmland and homes, inundating 20 lakh acres every day – Delhi five times over, or 13 cities the size of Mumbai. The Krishna rushed in from the Almatti dam in Karnataka and submerged 8,000 sq-km of land in a day. It now stands at the gates of the British colonial-era Prakasam Barrage in Andhra Pradesh next door, and a breach here could submerge vast swathes in the state’s rice-rich Krishna and Guntur districts. The Prakasam barrage is a key passageway for the Krishna, which meanders through Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on way to the Bay of Bengal. On Tuesday, hundreds jostled here despite restrictions. Nearby, on a hillock, is the Kanaka Durga temple. People here believe that the day the idol is submerged, the entire city of Vijaywada will be washed away. If it does, it would be blamed on tardy cooperation between the two states. Until Saturday night, Andhra Pradesh did not evacuate people from the catchment of the Nagarjunasagar Dam as the Karnataka government assured that no more water would be released from its Srisalam dam. But as floodwaters poured in, gates were opened at Srisalam, worsening the situation. “There appeared to be a breakdown of communication between the two neighbouring states,” said a senior official of the National Disaster Management Authoritry (NDMA), speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. But technology might soon make up for government delays. NDMA member NVC Menon said that by 2012, people would be alerted about rising water within minutes of it being tracked by satellites. Sloth after natural disasters is a annual story in India, a flood prone nation where tackling flooding comes under the states’ domain and New Delhi’s financial assistance since 2007 of Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) has shown few results. Then, there is the lack of accountability.
“In the last 60 years, not a single engineer has ever been charged or punished for mismanagement of these dams,” he said.