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Patiala paralysed
Hansi canal maroons several villages
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala/Sangrur, July 8
After Ambala, it is the turn of Patiala and Sangrur rural districts to come under the spate of flood waters.

Punjab is blaming Haryana for the flooding. It claims that the encirclement of the Ghaggar by the Hansi Butana canal has flooded 150 villages in Patiala and that 12 village lands are under water due to halt of channelisation work of the Ghaggar.

The situation is most grim in Patiala where 15 villages have been submerged in water and paddy crop in 80,000 acres has been washed away. Villagers are refusing to vacate their houses despite pleas by the administration. Special force personnel are engaged in providing food and other essential items to the villagers by boat.

Punjab Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, who visited both districts today, said the state would file a special petition in the Supreme Court tomorrow, demanding appointment of a local commission to witness the destruction in Patiala district due to the construction of the Hansi Butana canal by Haryana.

Sekhon said the state would demand dismantling of the alignment of the canal, saying that if this was not done, Patiala district would be endangered.

Punjab claims that the canal built along the border with Punjab to take water from the Bhakra Main Line (BML) canal to parts of Haryana had become a virtual wall which was stopping the natural flow of the Ghaggar. State irrigation department chief engineer Vinod Choudhary said with the obstruction in the flow of the Ghaggar, a lake had been created in Punjab territory. He said siphon taking the Ghaggar waters from underneath the canal was not capable of handling the water flow in case of heavy rain.

“Ulti Ganga beh rahi hai”, said hundreds of villagers who were camping on the road with the livestock in Ramnagar and Dharmaheri villages near the border with Haryana. "Few villages got affected during monsoons", said Gurbaksh Singh, a youth club president, "but with the building of the Haryana canal, things are getting bad to worse". The canal was built during 2003-05.

In Sangrur, Rs 135 crore spent on channelisation of the Ghaggar for a 22-km-long stretch from Khanauri to Makror Sahib has only increased the misery of people in its downstream. This is because Haryana had objected to the channelisation near its border and now work on the second phase of the project covering 17.5 km has come to a standstill.

Water travelling through the channel has again made a lake across 12 villages damaging crops in nearly 75,000 acres, according to DC Harkesh Singh Sidhu.





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