For two villages on Sutlej’s banks, a sea of loss

PUNJAB : As Sutlej waters started receding from the villages of Dharamkot in Moga district Tuesday, they left a trail of rot and destruction behind. But in Sanghera and Kambo Khurd — two villages on the river bank which had even withstood the 1988 floods — the loss was unprecedented.

Despair on their faces, the villagers, who lost their crops, cattle and homes, wondered who would compensate them, and said they were resigned to their fate if this ever happened again.

An internal report by the Moga administration said an estimated 12,000-14,000 acres of cultivable area in 15 villages have been “affected” by floods.

The first tentative assessment report from the district agriculture office stated that at least 4,220 acres under paddy cultivation across 15 villages of Dharamkot was completely damaged by the floods.

Not a single field has survived in two villages — Sanghera and Kambo Khurd. The report submitted by block agriculture officer (Kot Ise Khan) said that 700 acres of paddy crop in Sanghera and 110 acres in Kambo Khurd has been completely washed out. “Both villages have witnessed zero survival rate. Not a single field has survived here. Entire under area paddy in these two villages has been submerged,” said Jaswinder Singh Brar, agriculture development officer (ADO), Moga.

The report further said that 290 acres of crop area in Bhaini village, 400 acres in Madarpur, 130 acres in Kambo Kalan, 600 acres in Parliwala, 360 acres in Mehruwala, 600 acres in Mandar Kalan, 500 acres in Gatti Jattan, 100 acres each in Daulewala Kalan and Daulewala Khurd, 100 acres in Melak Kanga and 150 acres in Chak Bhaura have also been completely damaged.

An internal report by the Moga administration said an estimated 12,000-14,000 acres of cultivable area in 15 villages have been “affected” by floods. (Express photo)

“Water level has started receding but there is no hope of survival of crops in these villages,” read the report by the block agriculture officer.

Both Sanghera and Kambo Khurd villages are situated right in the middle of the banks of Sutlej. While there was no breach, flood waters submerged these villages as the river swelled, carrying 2.75 lakh cusecs of water, way beyond its capacity of 2 lakh cusecs.

Surjit Singh (40), a former sarpanch and farmer from Sanghera, said his 17-acre field has been washed out. “We have been living here since birth. Never before has so much water entered the village despite it being located next to the river bed, not even during 1988 floods. Each home still has 5-6 ft of stagnant water. Wheat and flour stored in drums has been destroyed and poor families have little food to eat.”

Jagir Singh (47) from Sanghera said that his entire 10-acre field was been washed out. “Almost 40 kuccha homes belonging to poor families are completely gone while pucca ones have developed cracks. Our animals have died. Who is going to compensate us for this loss? Our ancestors were allotted this land near Sutlej banks when they migrated to India from Pakistan during Partition in 1947. We have no option but to live here despite knowing that whenever Sutlej will swell, our village will be submerged. The 700 acres under paddy in our village has been submerged. Nothing is visible except water,” he added.

“There has been widespread loss and destruction in Sanghera and Kambo Khurd. The Dhussi Bandh near these two villages did not breach. Had it breached too, nothing would been left. Once water recedes completely, we will give free seeds of maize and toria oilseed to farmers. We will be writing to the government to adequately compensate these farmers,” said ADO Brar.

An inundated Sanghera village at Dharamkot in Moga on Tuesday. A total of 700 acres of paddy crop was destroyed here. Gurmeet SinghAn inundated Sanghera village at Dharamkot in Moga on Tuesday. A total of 700 acres of paddy crop was destroyed here. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Meanwhile, Moga Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Hans said that the Sutlej water level at Dharamkot was down from 724 ft (Highest Flood Level) to 721 ft on Tuesday. “Sutlej HFL has reduced by 3 ft today. There was no breach or overflow in any other village,” he added.

A total of 28 villages near Sutlej banks in Dharamkot are on high alert.

Meanwhile, the water level of Sutlej at Ladhowal bridge (near Phillaur) was recorded at 236.28 mts at 4 pm, a little below the danger mark of 237.58 mts. The water flow of Sutlej at Phillaur, which had reached the maximum 2.75 lakh cusecs on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, also reduced to 54,590 cusecs at 4 pm Tuesday.