Sunday, December 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Rats blamed for canal breach
Varinder Walia and Gurbaxpuri

Aladinpur (Tarn Taran), December 14
Even as the 75-foot breach in the Kasur Branch Lower of the Upper Bari Doab Canal has been plugged, yet more than 150 families of three villages of Tarn Taran subdivision are still marooned.

The district administration was finding it difficult to reach the farm houses which were surrounded by areas still submerged under water.

Though the district administration has stated that sub-standard material was not used while remodeling the Kasur Branch Lower high officials of the Irrigation Department on the condition of anonymity said it was the “faulty design and planning” which was responsible for the man-made calamity.

Meanwhile, Mr Jagroop Singh, the then Superintending Engineer, under whose supervision major work of the canal was carried out, refuted the charges.

It may be mentioned here that the Chief Engineer and an SE had already been placed under suspension for carrying out “faulty” remodelling of the canal system.

However, it is intriguing how the district administration had given a clean chit to the officials of the Irrigation Department without holding an inquiry into the breach. The official press note, while quoting the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, stated that rats had burrowed into the embankment which led to breach.

Meanwhile, the district administration has announced the holding of a special girdawri for the standing crop which got damaged due to the breach.

Mr Gurdip Singh, a leader of the Punjab Kisan Sabha and Mr Pritam Singh, former sarpanch of Aladinpur village, said the breach was caused due to the faulty design of the canal. They said immense damage had been caused to the wheat crop, submersible pumps and farm houses. The affected farmers demanded immediate compensation.

Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener, Kisan Sangharsh Committee, alleged that senior revenue officials, including the Deputy Commissioner, had failed to come to the rescue of the affected farmers in time. He said the Deputy Commissioner should have reached the site immediately on hearing the news. He asked the Chief Minister to direct the district officials to make arrangements for the supply of fodder for the animals apart from waiving off electricity bills.

Meanwhile, the district administration denied that there was any loss of life due to the breach.

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