Even though there hasn’t been much rain in Ferozepur, villages on Satluj flood plains across Harike Headworks are underwater once again.
On the face of the threat, Manpreet Singh of Bandala village has sent both his daughters to live with their relatives far away. “My house is 200 km from Pong dam, from where excess water has been released. And the increase in water level in Harike Headworks has once again endangered their house, which is surrounded by five feet of water. We were expecting that the water level will increase further, so we shifted some of our furniture and other things to the first floor. It is the third time in the past one month that the water level has increased,” he said.
The recent floods have turned the lives of people upside down in the villages on the floodplains of Satluj. It is the first time that these villages have seen such devastation since the 1993 floods. Jujhar Singh, leader of Student Organisation Sath which is working to provide relief in flood affected area, said that the Hathar area of Ferozepur across the Harike headworks is underwater. “The whole area remains dry otherwise, as most of the water from Satluj and Beas that is accumulated at Harike Headworks is diverted to canals. This makes the Satluj plain a perfect spot for cultivation. However, now as Beas and Satluj water levels are on the rise, the villages in floodplain across the Headworks have also turned into a river,” he said.
Manpreet added that it is for the first time that water has kept increasing for a month and they have never seen flooding in such magnitude before. “Earlier, water would come for four or five days and then everything would go back to normal. But I am not able to understand how engineers are failing to regulate water from Pong and Bhakra dams. Why are they releasing water suddenly and submerging our villages? Even though we are far away from Himachal, we are always directly affected whenever it rains heavily there,” Manpreet said.
Kale Ke Hathar, Bandala, Talle Gulam, Dheera Ghara, Muthiawala, Kamlawala, Nihala Lavera, Jalloke, Hamdawala, Vasti Kishan Singh, Kutabdeen, Jalloke, Gagda, Alevwala, Fattevala, and Arji Sabhra are the most affected areas in Ferozepur district.
Manpreet’s family survives on the agricultural land which is underwater. The second source of their income is livestock, which is also facing food shortage.
“My land is underwater for over a month. There is sand on my land, and I am not sure for how long it will not be suitable for agriculture. I don’t have enough feed for my cattle. Earlier, my buffaloes would give five to six kilos of milk and now its only one to two kilos. I am also afraid that the animals could catch some disease due to flooding,” he said, adding that the government gave him 50 kg feed for his cattle that lasted only around 10 days.
Sahib Singh, sarpanch of the village, said that several houses in the village are under water for days. “The incident has traumatised other people and the houses have also been damaged. The real conditions of these houses could be assessed only after the water level goes down. Earlier, floods would last for maximum a week, but now it has been over a month.,” he said.
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Two boys drown in Gurdaspur
Tragedy struck Dhirowar village in Gurdaspur district after two teenagers drowned after they went to witness floodwaters even as the water had started receding from the villages in the worst hit district of the Majha region.
Those who died have been identified as Dilpreet Singh, 13, and Jaskaran Singh, 14. According to reports, the two cousins had gone to see the floodwater on Wednesday evening on their cycle but didn’t return home. When they didn’t return home, their families filed missing complaints. After a 15-hour search operation, their bodies were recovered on Thursday.
DSP Rajesh Kakkar said that due to the current of the water, both children were swept away and drowned in the canal water. He added that their family members were inconsolable.