Video Input: Dharmendra Rajpoot
Video Producer: Azhar Ansar
Video Editor: Karuna Mishra
English Script: Vishnu Gopinath
In Ahirana village in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri, people are demolishing their own homes, brick by brick, with their own hands. The residents say that this is their only option. Come monsoon, they take their own homes apart. This is the story of a village on the verge of extinction.
The swelling Sharda river cutting away at the land, eroding the land, swallowing up homes and gradually sinking an entire village.
“My house got dragged into the water and was destroyed. It was fine two days ago, and yesterday, suddenly it went underwater. It has been happening for several years. Many houses have gone under water,” Chhotelal, a resident told The Quint.
"People are suffering because of soil erosion. This year alone, at least 30-32 houses have been washed away. Over the last few years, around 100-150 homes have been washed away."Ravindra Singh Yadav, Resident, Ahirana
People of the village claim that they get compensation only after their homes have been destroyed.
"We get compensation after our houses have fallen. Now if our houses fall into water, we can only pick up bricks that are still left. Instead, it’s better to demolish our houses and collect all the bricks. The house is going to be washed away. At least, we can get some money by selling the bricks. We can take that money, along with the compensation from the government, and build a new house. "Sanjay Yadav, resident
With homes demolished or washed away, their search for a new land to settle for a new home continues.
Birbal, another resident of the village said, “We’ll go to Maulpur or Mirpur. Wherever there is place for us to migrate.”
"We live on the road now. Or we put down a mat somewhere. And stay there. I have children. My children sleep there too. We get wet from overflowing water. My children are staying in different parts. Wherever we fin dry land, we are keeping them there. There is a small piece of agricultural land there. We are staying there."Rajkumar Yadav, resident
Ahirana was earlier home to 200 families with a population of 1,500. But in the past four years, over 150 home have been washed away. The villagers claim there is little to no help from administration the government is indifferent.
The local administration claims alternate accommodation has been arranged for all affected families.
“Our homes are under the water now. Whatever the government is providing us, we need it immediately. Where else will we stay? Everything is underwater,” said Chhotelal.