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In Punjab, blamegame over Bhakra water intensifies

Khaira says BBMB released Bhakra water in ‘panic’, Minister says Centre should revert control of board to Punjab

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
Updated: August 23, 2019 2:54:08 pm
Punjab floods, Chandigarh city news, Punjab flood news, Bhakra Dam Punjab, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Water level punjab flood, indian express A family being rescued by NDRF personnel in Kanga Khurad village in Jalandhar on Thursday. (Express photo: Anju Agnihotri Chaba)

The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) on Thursday faced fire for allegedly causing preventable losses in Punjab by releasing large quantities of water from the Bhakra Dam.

While Punjab Ekta Party (PEP) president and Bholath MLA, Sukhpal Singh Khaira squarely blamed the BBMB for releasing large quantities of water from Bhakra Dam in “panic”, Punjab Disaster Relief Minister Gupreet Kangar said that the BBMB chairman should be from Punjab and not from Himachal Pradesh as is the case at present.

Khaira, after visiting the flooded areas in Shahkot and nearby villages, said: “The level of water in the dam should have been brought down sufficiently in order to remain prepared for the worst because of the monsoon season. However, this did not happen and the BBMB released huge volume of water in a panic causing massive losses.”

He also castigated BBMB for having released large quantities of water running into several thousand cusecs to Pakistan in the months of May and June when this water could have been used for the benefit of farmers of Punjab.

“It is unfathomable why this water was released to Pakistan from the Husseiniwala barrage when the canals of the state were running dry. This water could have been channelised and allowed to be used for irrigation purposes,” he said.

“I have been told by the residents of areas around Shahkot that this is not the first time that they have suffered due to the lackadaisical attitude of BBMB. They have seen floods in 1985, 1988, 2008 and now 2019,” he said. Khaira also criticised the Punjab government for not checking illegal mining on river beds, and for failing to strengthen the Dhussi Bandh.

He added that the fact that the chairmanship of BBMB was not with Punjab and that the control of all hydel-projects of Punjab was in the hands of central government was also harming the interests of the state. “We would not have seen this day had the control of hydel projects been with Punjab,” he said.

State’s Disaster Relief Minister, Gupreet Kangar, also told mediapersons Thursday that the chairman of BBMB should be from Punjab.

“The fallout of any adverse happening is borne by Punjab. Earlier, the Chairman used to be from Punjab and so were all members. Now only one member of BBMB is from Punjab. I demand that the Centre should revert control of BBMB to Punjab and the Chief Minister also wants this to happen,” he said.

On his part, BBMB Chairman, D K Sharma, had stressed on Wednesday that the water level in the dam had been brought down by 20 feet in June to cater for monsoon rains. However, the unprecedented rains in catchment areas which caused a massive inflow of water into the dam led to a situation where it was necessary to release water to protect the structural integrity of Bhakra Dam.

BBMB had also emphasised that more water was needed to be released in the coming days because all partner states had agreed that water level in the dam much be brought down by five feet to cater for more rains as the monsoon season would continue for another month.

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