Another Facet: Flood brings hope for sand dwellers

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Wasaf Jeelani

WATHURA

The recent flood that took entire Kashmir Valley in its ambit has devastated almost every facet of life. But, for the sand dwellers of Wathura the floods had brought hope for their living. According to them the recent deluge has transported a huge amount of sand to the local Nalla.

These dwellers would dig under water to get sand since early 1990s, prior to that there was no such demand of sand because house were made up of mud or bricks, but after 1990s demand increased as people started making concrete houses. Since the demand for sand was evident with dozens from neighbourhood choose this as profession for their living.

On September 9, 2014 water from River Jehlum beseeched its bund and took the entire Valley in its ambit. It has left hundreds homeless, and has washed away property worth millions.

Imtiyaz Ahmad is one among the dozens of men in the village who pulls the sand from the local Nalla. Imtiyaz who is a chain smoker refuses to talk as it is time for him to work. He spotted another dweller who according to Imtiyaz was his senior.

“I started this profession of lifting the sand only after the flood as it turned to be a jack pot for us,” said the spotted man, Zahoor Ahmad.

He further added that the water level in the river was raised up which resulted in the huge amount of sand got transported in the river. “We again started digging sand from water. In early 1990 this trade was doing well. We would make a handsome earning out of it. But after few years there was no sand left.”

Another dweller said that it has vanished, early they used to do these 20 years ago and now they again started from last two months after foods.

In October these sand dwellers would load three trucks of sand but with the influx of winter the amount of lifting the sand has extensively decreased from three trucks to a one truck.

“We could only manage one and a half truck of sand because we can only manage to put ourselves in water for two hours not more than that its very cold there,” said another sand dweller, Shabir Ahmad Bhat.

“The amount of money we generate from one truck is Rs 3200 to 3500 mostly truck drivers buy and then they sell to their own customers. After floods in September we manage to pull out sand 3 to 4 trucks per day. In a month we sell around 100 trucks and per head 1500,” Bhat added.

“After 1997 I started this as profession. I used to go with my 4 friends in a boat nearby this area and used to pull almost ten trucks per day and we used to sell 300 rupees per truck.Because sand had remained in water from last many years so there was lot of it.”

 But since there was no sand left he said that they didn’t left the place in search of some job. But were determined to their village and started doing farming.

“We prefer to work near our home rather than anywhere else because we can work for two hours and can participate in house work too.”

(Wasaf is presently pursuing M.A in convergent journalism from central university of Kashmir)

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