Punjab: No fresh rain, but 3 new breaches spell trouble

Anju Agnihotri Chaba
A breach in Dhussi Bandh being repaired at the Bholewal village near Phillaur in Ludhiana on Tuesday. Gurmeet Singh

With no fresh rain reported from any part of Punjab, the water either remained stagnant or started receding at some places even as three new breaches were reported on the Dhussi Bandh affecting nearly 80 villages in Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts and one youth was washed away in the swollen Sutlej river. The authorities are likely to press in helicopters to rescue stranded people.

The Dhussi Bandh now has a total of nine breaches, including eight in Jalandhar and one in Kapurthala.

The new breaches took place in Chak Wadala and Mandiala villages of Lohian in Jalandhar, and Sarupwal village of Sultanpur Lodhi sub-pision in Kapurthala. In the affected villages, water level went up from 3-4 feet Monday to 10-12 feet Tuesday evening.

Speaking to reporters in Mohali, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said: The state administration is fully geared to meet any eventuality and will safeguard the lives of the people at all costs.

Meanwhile, many villages in Ludhiana, Ropar and Jalandhar remained inundated. Following heavy rains in past few days and release of excess water from the Bhakra dam, the swollen Sutlej river and its tributaries had inundated villages in several areas, including Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Rupnagar, causing extensive damage to crops especially paddy and homes in low-lying areas.

Rescue operations were being carried out in the affected villages by the teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF), which were assisted by district authorities in affected areas.

In Jalandhar, deputy commissioner Varinder Sharma and senior superintendent of police Navjot Singh Mahal took stock of the situation in Mandala village, where people were being rescued with the help of the NDRF, officials said, adding that boats were pressed into service to take stranded villagers out of flooded areas.

DC said they have roped in Army to plug the Dhussi Bandh breaches in Phillaur and food packets will be airdropped for the stranded people in Lohian beginning Wednesday. He said that crop on 30,000 acres is submerged in more than 50 villages of the district.

Mahal said several people were not ready to leave their places making the task difficult for the rescuers.

District authorities have set up relief camps in order to take out stranded villagers to safer places, officials said, adding that all the arrangements including food and water had been made available there.

The army also rescued stranded people in Zira in Ferozepur and Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala districts, official said.

Meanwhile, people in over a dozen villages towards the breach, including Kothe, Jania Chahal, Chak Wadala, Kanda Khurad, Kang Kalan, were unhappy with the efforts put in by the district administration saying that only the Army, NDRF and local people from gurdwaras have come to their aid.

A 25-year-old youth of Chak Wudala village got washed in the river water and the NDRF teams searching for him till the filing of the report.

At village Gatti Mandi Kaasu, locals requested the officials to shift their children to safer places.

The situation in marooned villages such as Mundi Sherian, Mundi Cholian, Mehrajwala, Kothe, Gatti Raipur and others remained grim.

Meanwhile, the Bhakra Beas Management Board authorities said they were hopeful of restricting the release of excess water through spillway gates in the wake of lesser inflow. They said the release of excess water was likely to be reduced from 41,000 cusecs at present to 20,000 cusecs in the next few days.

Partnering states Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan held a meeting with the BBMB authorities to review the situation.

The water level in the Bhakra was 1,680.50 feet on Tuesday. We are expecting to bring down the current water level in the dam by three to four feet more in the next few days in the wake of reduced water inflow in rivulets downstream, the official said.

The authorities were expecting to bring the water level in the at around 1,675 feet which will provide a cushion for managing any heavy inflows because of rains.

On Tuesday, Ropar Headworks released 90,405 cusecs, 82,759 cusecs and 73,015 cusecs water in the Sutlej river at 6am, 12 noon and 5pm, respectively.