The breach in the embankment of Ghaggar river in Sangrur district increased to 80 feet on Friday. The Army and NDRF were called in on Thursday to plug in the breach – which was at 50 feet. While efforts were on to plug in the breach at Phulad village in Moonak area, it has widened from the other side. Over 5000 acres of agricultural field is now inundated.
Several local residents, however, claimed that the breach has increased to over 100 feet. They asked why preparations were not taken in advance as breaches have occurred in Moonak area in the past as well. The breach occurred in 2015 and 2010 affecting several villages including Phulad, Mandwai, and Surjan Bhaini.
Sangrur Deputy Commissioner Ghanshyam Thori, however, told The Indian Express, “The breach has been reduced by 15 feet now and relief work is on by the teams of NDRF and the Army. We have interacted with the villagers and have asked them not to panic.” Thori said the Ghaggar river was Friday flowing slightly above the danger mark of 750 feet in the district, but there was no immediate threat to the inhabitants.
Revenue, Rehabilitation, and Disaster Management Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar also visited the area and assured the farmers of compensation for their losses.
Sources said that Sangrur administration had sought Rs 25 lakh from the state government for repair works of Ghaggar river, but it had not been allotted.
Harpal Singh Cheema, Leader of Opposition, who visited the area Friday said, “It is really sad that the government did not sanction Rs 25 lakh to save the flood-hit villages.”
“Ghaggar river was in zig-zag shape earlier and about 10 years ago and 22 km path had been made straight while the remaining 17 km was left. It could not be completed as a part of it was in Haryana. Several farmers from Haryana had moved court against this project. It is a problem for farmers every year and normally about 10-12 villages falling under this stretch collect Rs 200 per acre every year and they make advance arrangements on their own apart from government efforts. However this year it seems that government, as well as the villagers’ efforts, have failed. It has been told that government got work done from MGNREGA workers. But the breach shows as to how the work was done,” Cheema said. Moonak falls under Lehragaga area of Sangrur which is the constituency of SAD MLA Parminder Dhindsa.
Local Government Minister Brahm Mohindra said Bathinda has been severely affected as it received 178 mm rainfall on July 16, which created a flood-like situation in the city.
“Due to heavy rains, a breach occurred in sullage carrier carrying the sewerage water necessitating shut down of the pumping station. The pumping could only be started after 10 hours,” he said.
He said the whole situation was personally monitored by him and the senior officials of the department. All the accumulated water was drained out on July 18 and the situation is under control.
Mohindra said a high-powered technical team has been constituted by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, consisting of a technical advisor to the Punjab government, who would visit Bathinda soon and submit a report to suggest further remedial measures after a detailed assessment of the site.
The river is 102 feet wide where it travels in a straight path while in the zig-zag path it is only 52 m wide creating a difference in water pressure. Sources said that this difference was the reason for the repeated breaches.