160 Km from Maharashtra's capital Mumbai, a small village called Taliye in the Raigad district saw one of the worst tragedies in the state in decades as 85 people lost their lives in a landslide.
On Thursday, 22 July, a massive hillock came crashing down on the village razing to the ground 35-40 houses on its way.
The Quint travelled to Taliye and met the survivors who continue to be in constant shock as they try to rebuild their lives from scratch.
More Than A Week After the Landslide, Villagers Grapple With Shock, Denial and Grief
Kishor Sampat was in Dubai when he found out that an incident of a massive landslide has been reported in his Raigad village. Sampat whose parents, wife and only child lived in Taliye, took the next flight home.
"I left (from Dubai) on 22 July and reached Mumbai in the morning on 23 July. On my way back home from the airport, the roads were damaged and waterlogged because of which I couldn’t reach Taliye the same day," he said.
They had kept my mother’s dead body for me to perform the rituals but even that couldn’t happen because I reached home late at night on 24 July. Next day, in the evening, we found my father's body.Kishor Sampat, Businessman
While Sampat's wife and his child escaped in time, the sudden death of his parents has left him in a state of deep shock.
For Shraddha Kondalkar, a final year college student, life from here won't be easy. Hours before the landslide, Kondalkar's father had come to the village to rescue her grandmother, but he never returned. Shraddha now has to fend for two younger siblings and her mother.
"My brother is just 10 years old and he hasn't still accepted that our father is no more. He keeps saying that our father has gone somewhere and will return home soon."
A Funeral For The Missing
Nathuram Kondalkar, an employee at the Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority (MHADA) was at work in Mumbai when the landslide claimed the lives of seven members of his family. While the body of five have been recovered, two are still missing.
"We requested the District Collector to declare all the missing people as dead. Look at the scale of the landslide. Do you think they would've survived?" he said.
When we reached Taliye, Kondalkar and several other people were conducting the last rites at a collective funeral for those whose bodies have not yet been found.
When the situation worsened, around 85 people had gathered at a place and were contemplating what to do. My brother’s family was also there. However, it (landslide) was like a sudden blast which did not give them any time to think. All of them got buried under rocks and boulders.Nathuram Kondalkar, Junion Officer, MHADA
"The force of water was such that 4-5 youngsters, who were making a video of what was happening, got washed away within seconds. We don’t know what happened to them after that," he added.
'No Warning Given Despite Unprecedented Rainfall'
Both Kishor Sampat and Nathuram Kondalkar told us that while the government and several NGOs are actively engaged in relief work, with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray himself having visited the village on 26 July, no prior warning regarding the landslide was given.
"No specific surveys were conducted by the government in Taliye. I remember sometime around 1994-1996, our neighbouring village of Parmachi saw a similar tragedy. At the time, some surveys were conducted, and warnings were given in nearby villages like Mazeri. But nothing was done for our village in particular."Kishor Sampat, Businessman
Nathuram Kondalkar on the other hand says that he is confident that the government will rehabilitate the victims. "But is rehabilitation enough?" he asks.
"We will have to start from scratch now, ground zero. In this situation, we are totally blank. The entire village is gone. Even if the government gives us home to rehabilitate, where will we find the people with whom we can live in those homes with?"
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