Nine houses in Rampur Seuri labour colony at Surajpur near Amravati enclave were washed away after Haryana Irrigation department opened floodgates of Kaushalya Dam last evening. No casualty or injury was reported but the residents lost their homes, where they had been staying for over 45 years.
Heavy rain on Sunday and Monday led to an increase in the water level of the Kaushalya Dam which had crossed the danger mark of 478 metres. Fearing a flood situation, officials of irrigation department moved to open three out of six floodgates around 6:30 pm Monday.
Officials in the administration said this was an unauthorised colony. Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Mukul Kumar said the colony is on the Municipal Corporation’s shamlat land. There are nearly 250 houses and a few shops in the colony.
The three gates were lifted up to 0.5 metres (first and second gate) and 0.3 metres (third gate) for the controlled release of water into the Ghaggar River. However, the flow of water was towards the right-hand side of the dam where these lowrise, pucca houses were located on the banks. It was for the first time that the floodgates of the dam had to be opened.
Some residents told Chandigarh Newsline that they saw their belongings — coolers, beds, doors etc being swept away. The first house that was washed away was that of Yashodha, around 8:30 pm. As the water level was inching closer to their houses, the local police had already got these residents staying along the banks evacuated. Fearing a mishap, power supply to this colony was also switched off. Other houses started getting washed away after 10:30 pm.
The house of Nirmala, a widow and a mother of three sons, was the second one to go.
“My husband died two years ago. I have been surviving only for my children. I am a daily wager. Where will I keep my children now and how do I start from scratch to construct a house?” said Nirmala.
Nirmala said, “We have been staying here for over 45 years but no official ever came to remove us. Rather, political leaders would come seeking votes – they never told us that the colony is unauthorised.”
Seema Devi, former councillor of the area, visited the spot Tuesday. Yashodha, who lost her house, said a wall on the left side of the bank was constructed by a private company to carry out construction and as water couldn’t flow that side, it changed its course towards the houses.
To save himself and his family from drowning, Hemraj, along with his wife and five children, rushed out of the colony leaving behind all belongings. Hemraj had a two-room accommodation. “We have not even got food till now. My wife had prepared food for dinner last night and by the time we were planning to eat, we got to know about the flow of water and we rushed out to save our lives,” said Hemraj, a daily wager.
Executive engineer of the irrigation department, Rakesh Kumar Chopra, said, “Water will flow only to the direction where the slope is. The slope was towards the right side and the water washed away these houses. We closed the floodgates around 2 am Tuesday,” Chopra said.
Chopra added that the private company had constructed a protection wall as it has to carry out the construction of its housing project on the other side. Some residents were sitting in the open in the lanes of the colony, worried about where they will stay at night.
“It is getting colder. I have small kids with me… already we have spent the day after sitting in the lanes… where will we sleep at night?” Nirmala said.
Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Mukul Kumar said temporary arrangements for the stay of these residents were made at the Kali Mata temple. “We arranged food for them also. In the afternoon and now again, food for over 100 people has been given,” he said.