Friday, July 20, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

More breaches in Ghaggar
Flood water brings toxic effluents
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Boys show a mouse caught from the flood waters.
Boys show a mouse caught from the flood waters. The situation has raised fears of outbreak of diseases. 
— Tribune photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, July 19
Two more breaches occurred in the Ghaggar river since last night, even as the Tangri and Markanda rivers criss-crossing the district flowed above the danger mark and water accumulated at RD 460 in Khanauri.

Four villages — Gular and Jogewal in Patiala district and Nawangaon and Hotipur in Sangrur district — have been affected by the fresh breaches. Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir said water had entered the fields of all four villages. He said sand bags had been sent to the affected area.

Mr Bir said the Tangri and Markanda rivers were flowing above the danger mark. He said while the Tangri was flowing one feet above the danger mark, the Markanda was flowing two and a half feet above it. He said water was also accumulating at Khanauri where siphons helped the Ghaggar to cross over from beneath the Bhakra main line canal. He said that at Khanauri the danger mark was 748.5 feet (above sea level) but the water level was 752.3 feet.

Mr Bir said temporary measures had also been taken to strengthen the defence bundh on the right-side guide bed of the Ghaggar where it crossed the Narwana branch at RD 149. He said the breaches which had occurred yesterday were also being taken care of, adding that the breach at Rasoli in Samana subdivision had been plugged.

He said flood water had affected about 1,000 acres in Rasoli, Shatrana and Naiwala villages. He said another breach at Ojhan village, which had affected Khatauli, Roshanpur, Bibipur, Khrabgar and Budhmore villages, was also being attended to. He said work on plugging the breach at Adaltiwala village had also started.

Veterinary teams have reportedly been sent to the affected villages. Drinking water is also being made available at deras which have been inundated. Crop damage is only feared in Chhicherwala village as the paddy crop, sown recently, would not be affected if the water recedes.

Meanwhile, people living in Samana and Patiala subdivisions along the Ghaggar river, besides several besides rivulets, are battling seasonal floods, hoping against hope that their crop will not be affected.

‘’This year the hope of saving our crop is also bleak’’, said villagers of Chichherwal village adjacent to the Sagra Para rivulet in Samana subdivision of the district. They said this was because the Sagra Para, which had breached near their village, had brought with it toxic effluent water from industrial units of Haryana. This water was flowing into village land and could severely affect the paddy crop.

Though the district administration is working towards plugging of the breach in the Sagra Para, villagers said plugging breaches in various rivers criss-crossing the district was a never-ending process during the monsoon.

“Taking action after the occurrence of breaches is commendable but steps should be taken for a permanent solution to the problem”, said Mr Narinder Singh Patran. He said most of the people living in the belt affected by flash floods had migrated from Pakistan and had been repeatedly assured that the destruction wrecked by the Ghaggar to their fields every year would come to an end with the canalisation of the Ghaggar. But no steps had been taken in this regard by successive governments, he lamented.

“During the run-up to the last Assembly elections they told us, ‘Tusi Congress chak do, asin Ghaggar chak davange,’’ said another resident of the area. “We went by their word, with only former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal scraping through in Lehra Ghagga constituency, but our hopes were belied,” he said. Residents of affected villages are not only angry with the present government for having done nothing on the issue but also feel betrayed that the government has made only empty promises during the past four years.

‘’We are sick of high-level teams of officials visiting our area every year after flash floods in the region. There are grand statements, most of which say the Ghaggar is being canalised shortly but there is no follow-up action,’’ said Sherjang Singh, another villager They gave examples of how various teams had conducted inspection of the area several times but to no avail.

This time, before the start of the monsoon, a high level team had visited the areas and recommended canalisation of the Ghaggar, besides making the Batisdara a channelised drain.

Villagers said the government had not been able to make the Batisdara, a natural drain of the Ghaggar, operative, which could ensure that water did not accumulate at Khanauri. They said water accumulated at Khanauri because the siphons installed there, which took the Ghaggar water beneath the Bhakra mai-line canal to the other side, could not cope with the heavy influx during the monsoon. They said this resulted in accumulation of water, threatening land of various villages.

They said the government had also not been able to decide the fate of a bundh constructed by villagers of Sangrur district at Hotipur village which resulted in accumulation of water at Khanauri. The bundh has been the source of friction between villages of Patiala and Sangrur but no effort has been made to resolve the matter amicably, they added.

SANGRUR: Waters from the Ghaggar have entered the fields of five more villages in the district — Hotipur, Nawan Gaon, Andana, Baopur and Banarsi, all in Khanauri area, affecting 2,000 acres.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, who toured flood-hit villages on Thursday, said the situation was not grim.

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