M A I N   N E W S

In Punjab, a story of indifference
Sarbjit Dhaliwal / Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Bharoana (Kapurthala), September 4
After running errands to flood -ravaged area in this region officers have returned to their offices in Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Chandigarh and elsewhere. Politicians are busy preparing for fight over floods in Punjab Assembly in the current session without bothering much about succour to thousands of farmers and poor people awaiting financial help as floods have virtually ruined them.

Paddy, in thousands of acres, has been wiped out leaving farmers in tears. It is second time they have been devastated in two decades. Earlier, in 1988, gushing waters of Sutlej, which was flowing today clam after venting its fury three weeks ago, had ruined thousands of farmers and poor people.

“ We struggled for 20 years since 1988 to rebuild our lives but we were never knew misery is about to revisit us again” said Karnail Singh, whose 50 acres of paddy has been swept away by floods. He had taken 40 acres on lease at Rs 17,000 per acre. How would I pay the lease money I do not know, said Karnail Singh, whose house is just 50 metres from the spot where the second defence bundh of Sutlej had breached to cause widespread destruction. Karnail Singh has suffered loss Rs 20 lakh.

There are many other farmers like him.

Karnail Singh and his three brothers have been living just near the defence bundh and flood virtually has shattered their lives like several thousands of others. Fields, which were lush green with paddy nearing fruition stage a few days ago, now give barren look in vast area in this region.

However, what has deeply hurt people is the indifferent attitude of the state government on providing immediate relief. “We are waiting some one from the government side will come to provide us relief but no one has turned up so far”, said Balbir Singh, former sarpanch of Kalu Mandi. Some people came with small bags of wheat flour, tea and sugar bags a few days ago. But no one turned up after that, said Sucha Singh, another villager.

“ We do not know whether the state government is to provide relief to us or the Union government. We even do not know what official hurdles have been preventing the state government to distribute money as relief for the damaged crops and houses, dead animals and other material loss to us. That is for the government to resolve all these official and technical hitches.”, said Sadha Singh.

Even after 20 days , people, who had moved from their homes because of floods, continue to live in a gurdwara here. “When we will get back to our homes, we do not know”, said Kulwant Kaur, who is camping with several family members in the gurdwara.

Bhajan Singh says he has sent his cattle to a relative near Dharmkot. Several others, who have no green and dry fodder left with them, have done so. Sukhdev Singh says some officials from Sultanpur Lodhi had given cheques worth Rs 2,000 to some of families. “We are two brothers camping in the gurdwara along with 10 family members. We were given just Rs 2,000. How can we live with this amount”, he asked with agony on his face.



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