A breach in overflowing Abuk Khuranaa drain has led to flooding in cotton fields spread across 15,884 acres in 60 low lying villages of Fazilka district. The early varieties of the crop that had started ripening is likely to rot as farmers have no avenues to drain out the excess water.
A state agriculture department official Parminder Singh Monday pegged the damage to crops in these 60 villages, including 14 in Seto Gunno belt of the district, in the range of 30 to 100%. “We will be able to asses the exact damage only after water recedes,” he added.
The farmers, however, said there was no chance of water receding as their villages fall in low lying areas. It has already been six days since the water first entered their fields on Wednesday. “The stagnant water heats up during the daytime. It will lead to rotting of the crop,” said Jasmail Singh, a farmer from Himmatpura village in Abohar.
Another farmer, Pappi Singh, went live on Facebook and drove a few kilometers to show the extent of damage in fields. He even showed how farmers were creating a barrier with sandbags to stop water from entering their fields.
Official records show that breach in Abul Khurana drain, which emanates from Lambi Assembly segment in Muktsar district, is not a new thing and happens every year. “This shows how serious the government is in getting the drains cleaned ahead of monsoon,” said Gurjant Singh, also from Himmatpura.
Drainage department’s executive engineer Sukhjit Singh said he joined “here only two months back” and was yet to see the plan on “how to end this problem” He, however, claimed that the walls of drain have eroded and hence “we cannot call it a breach; once water recedes, we will check the erosion and get it repaired.”
“But villages at the tail end always have a problem. Farmers in Muktsar drain the excess rainwater into the drain and it accumulates at the tail end. The farmers there (Abohar) face water scarcity as well during irrigation time as at times water is used up by the farmers in Muktsar,” he added.
Pawan Kapur, executive engineer, Fazilka, said,”A number of villages in the district fall in low lying Sutlej catchment area due to which they get flooded and drainage of water becomes an issue. In Fazilka villages, the problem arose on Sunday only. In paddy fields, damage will be bare minimum”.
He added that “discharge of rain water is not controlled in drains” and “weak points get eroded and flood nearby areas”. He claimed,” 90% of drains in my area have been cleaned.”
Meanwhile, Arvinderpal Singh Sandhu, DC Fazilka has asked the revenue department to submit the report on crop damage at the earliest so farmers could be compensated.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema had visited the affected villages in Balluana constituency.
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