Ferozepur: The fate of more than a dozen villages located at the Indo-Pak border hinges upon the mercy of Satluj river for over half-a-century, as no Centre or state government has been able to sort out their problem. The only remedy they suggest to the helpless villagers is to relocate elsewhere.
Every year, crops are been washed away with the heavy current of the water flow in the river. The residents of these villages are resigned to facing the same adversity each year and can only pray that the gods show them some mercy.
Geographically, Satluj river flows in a zig-zag way. After the Hari Ke barrage when the river enters in district Ferozepur, it flows in India and Pakistan in such a zig-zag way that at some points it enters in India and then enters in the Indian Territory along the Indo-Pak border. Geographically, these villages have been located in the two loops of the Satluj and its branches which have been filled and overflow in the river in the rainy days causing a flood-like situation in these villages. The river bifurcates twice making two different loops surrounding about 15 villages in its territory. Kaluwala village and Jhugge Kushal Singh Wale are encircled in the first and a narrow loop leaving no way to cross and thus remain cut off till the water levels lower down. Other villages like Tendiwala, Bhanewala, Bhakhra, Navi Gatti Rajo Ke, Gatti Rajo Ke, Kilche, Kamal Wala, Gatti Khundar, Ali Ke Jhugge, Rahime Ke, Chandi Wala Gatti Khunder and BSF Post Shame Wala fall in the second big loop that starts from Bhikhi village of Pakistan encircling all these villages in the loop. And these villages also remain cut off from the rest of the country. When the water level lowers in these branches, the BSF prepare a temporary bridge to cross the river but have to dismantle it when the water rises again. Now, the government has made a small permanent bridge over one point which provides some relief during normal days.
Sarpanch of Tendiwala village said that during floods, the village has no link with the surroundings and their houses are filled with water, creating problems for the residents as well as for the animals for sometimes up to a month-long period. Crops are washed away every year leaving them starving and the government does not award them compensation accordingly. As most of the residents grow vegetables and earn their livelihood selling them into Ferozepur City, they become unemployed for more than three to four months. Kaluwala Sarpanch Bagga Singh and Nambardar Bohar Singh said that they are the most distressed in the area as their area virtually becomes an island during the days of floods as the current of water becomes very fast, they also cannot use boats to pass the river. Every crop of the area is submerged in water leaving them and the animals to starving and forcing them to remain hungry.
Deputy Commissioner D P S Kharbanda said that the government knows the problems of these people and the administration provides all the facilities to the flood-affected areas, including the rehabilitating shelters, supply of tarpaulins, food for the affected persons as well as the fodder for the animals. He said that the administration conducts a survey to assess the loss of the crops and sends the report to the givernment and mostly, the state government provides the compensation also. He added that the state government had constructed a bridge over a branch of Satluj on the way to these villages and were in the process of providing more facilities to these beleaguered villages.
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