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Musi Floods of 1908

On Tuesday, 28th September 1908, Hyderabad witnessed disastrous floods in the Musi, which flows through the city. Thousands lost their lives and nearly twenty thousand houses were washed away. On either side of the river there was nothing to be seen but collapsed houses, tangled masses of uprooted trees, logs and rafters.

Human corpses and animal carcasses lay everywhere. In one day, 17 inches of rainfall was recorded and the water level at Afzalgunj was about II feet high and in some other places it was even higher.

Sir Maharaja Kishen Pershad, who was the Prime Minister, sought the aid of the army and police. Ten centres were set up for distribution of free food to the flood-hit people. A commission was set up to investigate the gravity of the situation and the extent of loss.

Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, the Nizarn of Hyderabad, personally supervised the rescue operations and went about in the devastated areas, grief-stricken. The gates of the royal palaces were thrown open to provide temporary camping grounds. A meeting was called by the Prime Minister in the Public Gardens and an appeal for donations was made for relief operations. Arrangements were made for free distribution of food thrice a day to nearly forty thousand people for a number of days.

It may be mentioned that even during the Qutb Shahi period and also during the siege of Golconda by Aurangzeb in 1656, Musi floods caused considerable damage to Aurangzeb’s army. Later in 1820 during the third Nizam’s reign, floods of the Musi wrought havoc and hundreds of houses in the city were submerged.

To prevent recurrence of such tragedies, the Osmansagar and the Himayatsagar reservoirs were built and the river’s northern and southern embank ments were raised. In the old city, one can still see marks on the old police station indicating the highest point reached by the waters. (Height of fld level abbreviated to H.F.L.)

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