Hoping for help from the sky

Relief through chopper continues in water-logged villages

The rumbling noise of the chopper jolted the residents of Moolapalle from their half-sleep and half-fatigue, who ran out of their houses with the hope of getting some essential commodities. Their eyes were stuck in the air, expecting bags of goodies to be dumped on the lone dry patch of land seen in the midst of their submerged fields.

The little-known Moolapalle, tucked somewhere abutting a hillock and the Seshachalam forest ranges, is not the only village yearning for help from the sky. Several villages like Kalepalli, Kuppam Badur and Chittathuru upstream of Rayalacheruvu are still in knee-deep water.

Moolapalle and Nadimpalle are cut off from the mainland and have remained islands for days together. Till the time the road connectivity is restored, the government authorities are air-dropping essential commodities to such water-logged villages through helicopters drawn from the Indian Air Force. The helicopter crew from Bengaluru is slogging it for almost a week by making up to six sorties a day from the old Tirupati airport to supply commodities to the hinterland.

The political leadership is adopting a two-pronged strategy to tackle the flood situation. “On the one hand, we are restoring the canals and water bodies, and on the other, providing food materials to the victims”, says Government Whip Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy, under whose Chandragiri constituency falls the 500-year-old earthen structure Rayalacheruvu. The water body was filled up to 1.5 times its capacity of 0.6 tmcft, thus posing grave threat to the villages downstream, leaving the authorities with no option but to release huge amounts to strike a balance with the inflows. The villages submerged by its backwaters are still grappling for relief.

The bag of essentials containing a rice bag, palm oil, pulse and onions are readied based on the population of the affected village. “We are fully geared to air-drop commodities sufficient for the families in the vicinity, before road restoration begins,” says Deputy Collector Kiran Kumar, who is monitoring the civil supplies to the villages.

Rayalacheruvu at its brim, Swarnamukhi river in spate and Malvanigundam waterfalls washing away several colonies of Tirupati are the problems faced by the district administration today.

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