“With great power comes great responsibility” goes a very famous saying.
Those in power must try to alleviate the sufferings of the less fortunate section of the society, especially in a developing country like India. Yet, there are only a handful of powerful people who take up this responsibility and give it their all- selflessly, to mitigate the sorrows of the poor and the needy. SDM Arvind Kumar of Balia, UP is such a gem.
A follower of APJ Abdul Kalam, Arvind Kumar was born and brought up in a poor household in Banaras. Having struggled a lot since childhood, with college education funded by his friends, Arvind Kumar could empathize with the hardships the poor faced. At the age of 28, he started his job as SDM of Balia in July 2015.
Soon after, monsoon wreaked havoc in North India, causing floods that affected over 2 million people from over 1,000 villages in Bihar and forcing 1.7 lakh people to take shelter in 179 relief camps set up in various affected areas. Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand regions also suffered, owing to the Ganga and Ghagra rivers breaching the danger mark.
A small village called Bairiya in Balia district of UP faced the danger of being flood-hit. A 60-year-old ring dam built on the Ganga in Dubeychapara district had been protecting Bairiya and dozen other surrounding villages from this calamity till date.
On August 26, villagers were gradually abandoning repairs on the dam and were fleeing from the work site because the dam was too old and broken down to sustain high force of water attacking it. When Arvind Kumar got this news, he instantly drove his car to Bairiya. When he reached at 2 am, he took a boat to the repair site and saw confusion and panic engulfing the workers.
The need of the hour was to calm everyone down. He announced that he had heard the water level was falling upstream near Allahabad. He also asked the villagers to evacuate their homes and climb to higher ground near the national highway. To initiate rescue operations, he took the help of local boatmen, paying them from his own pocket to get diesel and other essentials.
Amid all this mayhem his eyes fell on the geo-bags lying at a construction site near the dam, which are synthetic bags made from polyester, polypropylene or polyethylene and are used to protect hydraulic structures and riverbanks from severe erosion and scouring.
Arvind Kumar now needed manpower to place these bags on the dam in such a way that water could be prevented from entering the village. Finding none willing to help, he took the task upon himself and started to lift the bags himself and placed them where needed. Seeing this, eventually led by few elderly people, 100-150 people made a human chain to pass the bags to each other. Within just an hour, there were around 400 people trying to save the 3.5 km long dam, including Arvind himself.
When situation seemed under control, Arvind Kumar called the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team at Navranga, 8 kms from Bairiya. With a quick response time, the NDRF team took over the rescue effort of evacuating villagers. Many of the able-bodied villagers still continued working at the dam repair site, keeping the structure intact for another 36 hours before it finally gave away due to the damage that had taken place on the other side. The silver lining was that, all villagers were evacuated to safety by then.
ScripBros is glad to have presented the story of such a dedicated employee of the government, a rare gem in today’s corrupt environment.