Sunday, 28 September 2008

Musi Floods 1908: Humanity rules over religion


September 28, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Thousands of people suffered because of the Musi Deluge. Death struck one and all, irrespective of his or her religion.
Soon after the floods Hindus and Muslims gathered into groups and formed special committees to organise relief and rehabilitation of the affected. The Nizam had broken the tradition and offered special prayers to the river goddess to invoke her blessings. Incidentally, the suggestion came from Muslim religious scholars
themselves.
City historians say after the floods Hindu priests and Moulvis approached the Nizam saying that the river goddess was angry and she should propitiate her.
The Nawab dressed in traditional Hindu costumes and kumkum on his face offered valuable gifts of a saree, gold, silver, diamonds, pearls and kumkum to the river, amidst the chanting of mantras. The Musi, which was receding already showed perceptible reduction in depth.
The Nizam opened kitchens were opened in various parts of the city and they functioned till October 13. In all 6.25 lakh people benefited from the relief camp. Eminent engineer Sir Viswesarayya was invited to study the flood conditions and suggest measures for permanent prevention of floods. The result was Osmansagar
and Himayatsagar.
The Nizam and Sir Viswesarayya had tamed the Musi and it continues to be calm. But the encroachments on the river banks and tank beds in and around the city continue to threaten Hyderabad, should there be a heavy downpour. Musi may not cause havoc again, but if Hyderabad witnesses another calamity, it will be man-made, environmentalists warn.
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Musi Floods 1908: Fact File

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Many Hyderabadis know that a huge tree in Kosalwadi (now Osmania General
Hospital) had saved the lives of several people. But what many do not know
is that several trees were washed away in the floods unable to bear the
heavy human load, with scores of people climbing on their branches.
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A big tree at Kolsawadi to which about 150 people had clung for safety was
undermined by vortex action and floated down the stream with its human
burden. A large house near the same locality saved several lives.
*********
Water rose within two feet of the roof of the Victoria Zenana Hospital
(maternity hospital). Luckily, there were no casualties. All the women
patients were evacuated.
*********
More people were killed by falling houses, than by drowning.
*********
Around 15,000 people perished in the floods. Over 80,000 houses were damaged.
*********
The combined population of Hyderabad in 1908 was 1,92,861.
*********
The heavy rainfall was due to a cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal.
*********
The Nizam ordered relief works. Contributions poured in from all over
India and British Empire. About Rs 2 lakh was collected. The Nizam himself
donated Rs 4 lakh from his personal wealth.

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