Swaminarayan Sanstha rushes relief to the people of
The extent of the devastation was unseen in 100 years!
Navadwip located in the District of Nadia in West Bengal, India, was submerged under a record 11 feet of water. Even the main images at the birthplace of Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had to be moved to higher floors as the main shrine was under water. More than 70% of Navadwip's population was stranded in buildings with higher floors. Huts were washed away and the homeless moved to shelter homes and schools. Many hadn't eaten a proper meal in days. The only bit of little relief these people had seen was dropped once by the Indian Air Force. With high levels of starvation and the waters refusing to retreat, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Calcutta, immediately began relief operations for Navadwip.
Inspired by His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha began relief operations through its Calcutta centre. BAPS sadhus and volunteers in Calcutta started collecting food supplies and making arrangements for distribution. Ashok Guhathakurda and Pravinbhai Sakaria arranged transportation. Rajnikantbhai Kothari took care of distribution details. Nnitinbhai Patel and Jiteshbhai of Ganga Motors Limited made arrangements at Navadwip, while Asim Saha set up a local volunteer team at Navadwip and Krishnanagar.
With the situation grave, it was almost impossible to reach Navadwip by any means unless the waters receded to a certain level. It look almost 10 days before the first boats could be used to rescue people. A BAPS team consisting of Sadhu Aksharswarupdas, Sadhu Divyamurtidas, Rameshbhai Sakaria, Pravinbhai Sakaria, Bharatsinh Jhala, Kishorebhai Hindocha, Pravinbhai Patel, Vinodbhai Sampat and Rajubhai Asher left Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Bhawanipore, Calcutta, early on October 4, 2000 with a truckload of food supplies for Navadwip. After 5 hours of traveling by road, BAPS sadhus and volunteers reached Krishnanagar. Here the team distrubuted chira (pawa or flattenced rice), gud (jaggery), biscuits and clothes to 260 affected individuals who had taken refuge on the main roads.
Satisfying flood victims in Krishnanagar, the team prepared boats to transport men and material to Navadwip. Crossing the Rivers Bhagirathi Ganga and Jalangi by motorboats to Navadwip, one could easily see that even after 12 days since the floods first arrived, major parts of Navadwip were still under 3 feet of water. Large scale devastation was evident everywhere. The market place was totally flooded, and food was scarce. Rotting food grains and vegetables mixed with dirty mud and filthy rubbish filled the air with a strong rotting stench that made one wonder how people could still live there.
Wadding through waist-high waters and using boats, BAPS relief reached Navadwip at 2:00 p.m. and started food distribution almost immediately. A long line of 800 coupon holders gathered instantly. Each person was given flattened rice, jaggery and packets of biscuits. A second team of BAPS volunteers made their way by boats to victims stranded in emergency shelter homes set up in local schools to distribute biscuits.
The vice-chairman of Navadwip Municipality, Jivan Krishna Saha, was extremely overwhelmed by the Sanstha's timely relief. He commented, "The people of Navadwip are extremely grateful to you. Your Sanstha is the first to bring relief to Navadwip."
Shri Anand Mohan Biswas (MP-Lok Sabha) also expressed his appreciation at the Sanstha's timely relief.
By around 6:30 p.m., BAPS volunteers had managed to distribute food supplies to 4,170 victims in Navadwip and Krishnanagar.
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is extremely grateful to Sevantibhai Shah, Purushottambhai Parekh, Pradipbhai Sheth, Hemanshubhai Ajmera, Mansukhlal Kataria, Maheshbhai Shah, Rajnikantbhai Kampani and Sumanbhai Shah for helping with the relief work.
© 1999, Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith