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Bathinda bickering yet to be plugged
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Though a breach in the Sirhind canal that led to flooding of certain low-lying areas of Bathinda was plugged on November 9, yet it has created a lot of bad blood between Bathinda’s deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari and certain senior officers of the Punjab irrigation department.

Senior officers of the department right from executive engineers to chief engineer-level have sought action against Tiwari for allegedly using filthy language to superintending engineer of the department, Amarjit Singh Dulat and an executive engineer posted at Bathinda. A deputation of the engineers has submitted a complaint to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. They have also met irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon and secretary, irrigation, in this regard.

A spokesman of the Punjab irrigation engineers (class-I) association told The Tribune that the chief minister had referred the issue to the Chief Secretary to look into the matter. Following the meeting of the irrigation engineers with the chief minister, the inquiry into the breach in the canal had been withdrawn from the district administration and handed over to Chief Engineer (vigilance) of the irrigation department because the breach was a technical issue required to be probed by a technical person. “We had requested the chief minister to shift the inquiry from the district administration to some other officer,” said the spokesman.

However. Deputy Commissioner Tiwari said allegations levelled against him were baseless and without any substance. “With regard to the breach I had written to the Chief Secretary and other senior officers to bring in their notice the failure of senior officers of the irrigation department to muster adequate resources to plug the breach at the earliest possible,” said Tiwari.

Because of the failure to muster resources, including sand bags, efforts to plug the breach were impeded. “I did not use any foul language to anybody. What I observed at the breach site, I informed the Chief Secretary,” Tiwari said.

My report to the Chief Secretary against senior officers of the irrigation department may have prompted them to level such allegations against me, he added. While senior officers of the department went away from the site, officers of the administration remained present till the breach was plugged,” said Tiwari.

However, when contacted, Dulat said the deputy commissioner contacted him on his mobile about 1 a.m. on November 9. “Straightway, he started abusing me and threatened to get me arrested by getting a criminal case registered,” said Dulat.

“Earlier, he had used filthy language to an executive engineer shortly before 1 a.m.,” he said.

Dulat said the canal had breached about 5.30 p.m. on November 8 and he reached the canal site on the same day from his headquarters at Ludhiana. “I managed to get the water in canal reduced in 24 hours though it required 42 hours,” he said.

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