ARMY OUT AS 13 DIE IN PUNJAB FLOOD
Chandigarh August 18:
Army has been called out to assist the civil administration in relief and rescue operations as at least 100 villages, mostly along the Sutlej river, across eight districts, were inundated as torrential rains lashed many parts of Punjab since Friday. The State Government has confirmed the death of at least 13 persons so far.
The authorities have sounded an alert for towns, villages and other settlements on the banks of Beas, Ravi and Ghaggar rivers which are reported to be carrying unprecedented heavy flows. According to estimates, the State was facing the worst floods situation in the last 20 years.
While the officials of the Irrigation and Drainage Ministry said that the situation was grim, but under control, witnesses in Ferozepur and Moga district said that at least 25 more villages were affected as ravaging water from fresh breaches in Sutlej river entered inhabited areas. While officials claimed that the breaches in the embankment of Sutlej near Giddervindi and Sanghera villages of Ferozepur and Jalandhar districts had been plugged, fresh breaches were reported near Madanpura and Bagge villages in Ferozepur.
The authorities have placed Makhu town in the district under high alert as the water in the river is expected rise further after the Bhakhra-Beas Management Board (BBMB) releases more water to protect its dams, whose reservoirs are reported to have filled up to the brim. Reports indicated heavy rains in the catchment areas of both Sutlej and Beas rivers.
According to reports, the Army jawans who were pressed into service, used the entire manpower and equipment to evacuate at least 200 persons in Kapurthala and Jalandhar districts and a similar number in different villages of Ferozepur district. At least 1000 villagers were evacuated from villages near Fazilka town in southern Ferozpur.
Hundreds of villagers in various parts of the state are still marooned and stranded on the rooftops of their houses in many villages. The transport and communication has been completely disrupted. High alert has also been sounded in the villages of southern Patiala and Sangrur districts, where Ghaggar was reported to be in spate near Khannauri and Moonak. At least 25 villages face the threat of floods as water levels continue near the danger level. While crops, mostly paddy, in thousands of acres has been destroyed large number of cattleheads are reported to have been washed away.
The Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal conducted an aerial survey of the flood hit areas. He is reported to have ordered a special ‘Girdawari’ to assess the loss. In separate communications to different Union Ministries, Mr Badal on Sunday pleaded for liberal assistance to provide immediate relief. He has also urged the Centre to revise and relax the norms to provide adequate relief and compensation from the Calamity Relief Fund.
In letters to the Union Ministers for Agriculture, Home and Water Resources Sharad Pawar, Shivraj Patil and Saif-Ud-Din Soz, respectively, the Chief Minister said that the torrential rains in Punjab and heavy inflow of water from neighbouring hills had caused substantial damage in Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Moga, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Ropar districts.