Patiala: Only photo ops, false promises by leaders during Ghaggar floods : The Tribune India

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Patiala: Only photo ops, false promises by leaders during Ghaggar floods

Irked Ghanaur, Shutrana residents had opposed entry of candidates in 2019

Patiala: Only photo ops, false promises by leaders during Ghaggar floods

Residents being rescued during 2023 Ghaggar floods in Patiala district. File photo



Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Patiala, April 21

Election after election, the Ghaggar river still remains one of the biggest poll issues for hundreds of villages in the Patiala Lok Sabha constituency where it causes heavy damage when it overflows. Residents say that politicians have milked the issue and have promised a solution during polls, but the floods continue to haunt the villagers.

‘RIVER OF SORROW’

In three decades, floods in Ghaggar have caused losses in hundreds of villages. Villagers in Ghanaur and Shutrana area say that during past two elections, they opposed entry of candidates in their villages. This time, they have decided not to vote for anyone. “They are all the same. When we were suffering, they did their politics. They come, distribute rations, get pictures clicked and return back,” said a villager.

In 2023, the river not only submerged crops, but the devastating floods financially crippled the entire belt. Residents fume that before every poll, candidates reach their villages and make false promises assuring them of a permanent solution, but this time, they will not allow any candidate to befool them. Flooding of Ghaggar is almost a regular feature and cause heavy losses almost once every two or three years.

“We need a permanent solution for Ghaggar and it is the biggest poll issue for us. Once the polls are over, these candidates never return, while their close aides indulge in mining and fill their own pockets. We have been looking up to the successive governments for a solution for the past over two decades, but nothing was done,” said Gurwinder Singh, a Sanaur resident who lost his paddy crop twice during last season. “Land rates are very low in our villages and are not even half as compared to nearby villages unaffected by floods,” he added.

While affected villagers say they do not trust politicians anymore, the river and the floods caused by it still remains one of the boiling issues that haunts the candidates across party lines. Often termed a ‘river of sorrow’, the Ghaggar is again haunting leaders across the party lines. With the Lok Sabha election round the corner, politicians are back to their best, including a slew of promises on the Ghaggar. In the past three decades, floods in Ghaggar have caused losses in hundreds of villages.

Many villagers in Ghanaur and Shutrana area say that during past two elections, they opposed entry of candidates in their villages, but this time, they have decided not to vote for anyone. “They are all the same. When we were suffering, they did their politics. They come and distribute rations, get pictures published and return back. It is enough. We need a permanent solution, or they should stop asking for votes in the name of Ghaggar,” said a villager.

Many residents of villages alongside the polluted Ghaggar face health problems. The Ghaggar originates in Himachal Pradesh and flows from Punjab and Haryana into Rajasthan.

“To stop the devastation in its area, Haryana has constructed a toe wall on the 4-km stretch from where the Ghaggar flows into the state. Every monsoon, we suffer losses to life and property while pollution is killing us slowly,” said Gurpreet Singh from Hashampur Mangta, a tail-end village in Sanaur.

In 2023, the rain-fed river Ghaggar, wreaked havoc on thousands of acres of agricultural land and damaged properties in hundreds of villages spanning across SAS Nagar, Patiala, Mansa, and Sangrur districts of Punjab. Ghanaur suffered the maximum and it was only after a breach towards Haryana that more damage was averted.

While candidates claim that they would do everything possible to ensure that the villagers do not suffer due to the Ghaggar floods, affected villagers are in no mood to trust anyone, anymore. “We have had enough. All of them will come, visit their supporters in our villages and then vanish, only to return the next poll season,” says Dharmerhi resident Gurwinder Singh, who says that nothing has changed in the past three decades.

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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