M A I N   N E W S

Army gets the flood call but no maps!
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, August 22
In a smart move the administration on Sunday called in the Army to stand by, in case people are to be evacuated from areas, which it is feared, will be flooded by water released from the Bhakra-Nangal reservoir.

The 6, Sikh Regiment stationed at Chandimandir conducted a survey of the villages along the banks of the Satluj River in Anandpur Sahib today. But the team headed by Col HS Brar was handicapped by the absence of topographical maps and details of the river-bed. They did the next best thing and took extensive photographs of the river and adjoining areas so as to be able to study the topography in advance.

The team also assessed the requirement of boats and concluded that the countrymade, local boats made available by the administration may not be suitable for rescue operations. The Army, officials confirmed, would be using its own boats as and when they move in.

Meanwhile, the river water today spilled over to a few villages like Burj, Lodhipur, Chandpur Bela, Hariwal and Mehndi Kalan. By 1.30 pm on Sunday, the BBMP had released 61,000 cusecs of water, more than what was anticipated yesterday.

Water mainly skirted around the periphery of the villages but flowed into houses at Burj and Gajpur. At several other places the Satluj appeared to be eroding its banks.

Discarded and spare tyre and tubes are in great demand in the affected villages with villagers getting ready for the worst. The tyres would at least keep them afloat if the villages are flooded suddenly. While the administration has been making public announcements, asking people living on the river-bank to vacate their villages, most villagers have opted to stay back. Harbhajan Singh from Lodhipur articulated the sentiment. “How do I pick up all my belongings, the computer and almirahs etc. and move out ? Where do we go?”

Villagers blamed the administration for not doing enough to dredge the river-bed. Silt has made the river shallower than before, they alleged, creating flood-like situations.

At Nangal also, the river water on Sunday flooded around ten houses in Harsa Bela but the families preferred to remain in their flooded homes, rather than leave everything behind. They defied pleas made by the SDM, Lakhmir Singh, and the village sarpanch, who have been pleading with them to move out.

But though boats were sent for their evacuation, they refused to budge. Eventually a tehsildar managed to persuade villagers to allow the women, the children and the elderly to be evacuated. “Men stayed behind to look after the cattle,” the tehsildar told The Tribune.





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