Madikeri: This is one of those daring moments that confronts a man’s life especially during onslaught of nature’s fury and this is the time to show spunk, grit, determination and presence of mind. All these qualities were in abundance when the former Zilla Panchayat President Shantheyanda Ravi Kushalappa, with his bold moves, rescued hundreds of villagers to safety.
The story unfolds in villages of Mukkodlu, Kaloor and Makkandur that were most affected by the torrential rain and heavy floods turning them into an island with no escape route in sight.
With the rising water levels, the villagers, realising the gravity of the situation, climbed the hillocks and reached safer places and took shelter in a few homes. But as the conditions worsened every moment, the fear that they would not survive kept increasing. However, the man of the moment, Ravi Kushalappa saved more than 100 lives by reaching them to safety. He shared the experience of those agonising hours with Star of Mysore.
“Now the District Administration and the Government’s Task Force teams are claiming that they have been rescuing many lives caught in the flood fury. However, more than 100 villagers from Mukkodlu which had turned into a graveyard escaped from the pelting rain, came and took shelter in my house,” said Kushalappa.
According to Kushalappa, the rain began to pound on Aug.15. The villagers thought that it was the normal rain like every year and did not bother too much. However, the intensity of the rain increased by the hour. And when on Aug.16 and 17 the rain continued to lash, the whole village was under water.
Realising the danger, about 74 villagers climbed the Thantipaala hill and sat on top. They were sitting confidently waiting for the rescue helicopter from the District Administration’s Task Force. In the meantime, flood waters continued to rise. Sensing danger to their lives, the villagers came and took shelter in Ravi Kushalappa’s house.
The flood waters started surrounding the huge Meghathalu side hillock and the whole hillock collapsed into the nearly 10 acres of farmland. “Right in front of our eyes, the whole Thantipaala village was completely submerged under flood waters and the vehicles started floating. The parents of suckling infants and the aged, who were sick, started shouting for help,” said Kushalappa.
He immediately arranged for food for all of them at his house. However, the rains did not subside and the whole village turned slushy with red mud. “We decided not to wait for help from District Administration as we knew that our lives were at stake. Taking a bold decision, we took the forest route. But the road ahead was treacherous,” he said.
Continuing, he said that they left only with the clothes they were wearing, carrying ropes and cutting instruments. As the bridge had collapsed in the flood, they crossed it with the help of ropes and walked for about three kilometres.
The adventure continued as they brought down a huge tree and on that they carried the sick and the aged on their shoulders, crossed the place. Then they started climbing the Kote Betta. All the while there were strong winds blowing. They then crossed the two streams and reached the asphalted road near Madapura-Somwarpet’s Iggodlu village, he recalled.
“As soon as we reached the road, it looked like there was the Task Force team waiting just for us,” shared Ravi Kushalappa of those dark moments. “We suffered a lot and escaped from the jaws of death. But it is sad to see the claims of the District Administration that they only have rescued the villagers,” he regretted.
They had made a vow that they would not mind losing their properties but would still save their lives. In spite of all this, it was sad to see that they could not save the life of a child, he said with tears in his eyes.
By Prasad Sampigekatte