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Poor flood-control measures threaten BSF border posts
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

A protection bundh being erected using bags of soil and jute rope mesh at the spot where border fencing was getting eroded in the Tash Pattan area on the Indo-Pak border.
A protection bundh being erected using bags of soil and jute rope mesh at the spot where border fencing was getting eroded in the Tash Pattan area on the Indo-Pak border. Tribune photo by Karam Singh

Gurdaspur, October 3
The poor anti-soil erosion and flood-control works carried out by the Drainage Department in the security-sensitive Tash Pattan enclave on the border were threatening BSF posts.

The Department of drainage started carrying out temporary flash flood-control measures in the Tash Pattan area in September despite the fact that this was a drought year. The work was being carried out at the spot where border fencing was getting eroded by the Ravi.

However, in alleged violation of the norms the department was using bags of soil to create protection bundhs in the area. The bags of soil tied up with jute rope mesh could not stand for long in water. Moreover, soil was being dug right from the spot where the bundh was being erected, further aggravating the situation.

When The Tribune team visited the spot, labourers employed by the Drainage Department soil right from the banks of the Ravi whereas a bundh was being erected nearby sources said bags of soil or sand were used to increase the mass in the area that was prone to getting eroded. However, if soil was being dugout from the same spot it was a sheer wastage of the entire effort to stop erosion.

As per the norms of the Drainage Department, the soil bag protection bundhs using jute rope mesh were recommended only in the case of flash floods where the immediate need was the protection of life and property in the absence of other alternatives. In all other cases, the department recommends that pucca protection bundhs using stones and iron wire mesh should be erected as a flood-control measure.

However, in September that marked the end of the rainy season there was no need for taking temporary flash flood-control measures. Instead, it was the time for erecting pucca bundhs.

Mr A.K. Juneja, Executive Engineer, Drainage, however, said the use of soil for creating protection bundhs was recommended in their manual. Generally, flash floods strike in the area by September-end. When asked why soil was being dugout from the same spot where a bundh was being made, Mr Juneja said he was not in a position to say anything without surveying the spot.

However, the logic of the Drainage Department to take temporary measures for flash floods in the area does not stand scrutiny. In the said area, the previous pucca protection bundhs created by using stone and iron mesh wire have been rendered useless. Where such pucca bundhs have being rendered useless, the emergency flash flood-control measures defy reason.

BSF officials posted in Tash Pattan, speaking on condition of anonymity, alleged that the Ravi had been eroding their posts in the area. They requested the Drainage Department to use sand bags for the protection bundhs as sand was easily available on the Ravi banks. However, their request did not yield any result.

Earlier, Lieut-Gen Hari Prashad had written to the Punjab Chief Minister regarding the strategic importance of the area and the damage being done by the Ravi. After the matter was highlighted in these columns, the Secretary, Irrigation, also recently visited the area.
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