The villagers blamed the district administration for its lack of preparedness ahead of the monsoon season when the river remained largely dry

DW BUREAU / SANGRUR

After an embankment of the swollen Ghaggar river collapsed, damaging the newly planted paddy crop in over 4,000 acres of land, flood-like situations are prevailing in at least 12 villages in Sangrur district officials said on Friday.

Flood rescue operations involving the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Indian Army and the district administration have been going on since Thursday to plug a 150-foot long breach.

The villagers blamed the district administration for its lack of preparedness ahead of the monsoon season when the river remained largely dry. “No repair work has been carried out on the Ghaggar embankments for the past many years by the district administration despite our repeated reminders,” Santokh Singh, a villager, told IANS.

He said that initially a 30-foot long embankment caved in. Due to the delay in repairing the damaged portion to prevent further erosion of soil, a large portion has now eroded. “The continuous flow of water from the broken embankment in the past 36 hours has affected at least 12 villages, damaging crop in over 10-km area,” another villager Ajaib Singh said. He said there was shortage of earth bags to repair the damaged river embankment.

Deputy Commissioner Ghanshyam Thori, who visited the spot, said the drainage department every year undertook repair of the rivulets. He admitted that in the last two years, no funds were allocated for the repair of the Ghaggar river embankments.

“We immediately swung into action to plug the breach. We have sufficient manpower and material to get the broken embankment repaired,” he said. According to Thori, the water levels in the seasonal river were above the danger mark. “If the rain stops in its catchment, water levels of the river will automatically go down,” he added. Revenue Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar, who inspected the rescue operation, said that farmers would be suitably compensated for their losses.

The Ghaggar river passes through Patiala and Sangrur districts in Punjab. Both the districts were worst hit due to floods in the river in 1988, 1993 and 2010.

(editor@dailyworld.in)

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