The recent tragedy that jolted Uttarakhand in the wake of monsoon floods could strike Punjab as well due to a large number of constructions near banks of rivers and 'khuds'. Unplanned and haphazard constructions along rivers and 'khuds' have squeezed these water channels no ends, putting the lives of people living nearby in peril.
Last year, a part of a private medical college on the Pathankot- Dalhousie Road was washed away. Though college students and staff escaped unhurt and the institute has since constructed a broad water channel nearby, the Nature's fury cannot be ruled out in future.
It is pertinent to mention here that the scenic beauty and cheap land has attracted investors and others interested in setting up hotels and educational institutes near Bungal and Badhani area, ignoring threats posed by heavy rains during monsoons. Since the land in and around 'khuds' is affordable, many colonisers have purchased land from owners and set up residential colonies.
The area is also witnessing felling of trees for the construction of approach roads, due to which many owners have since been served notices by the forest department. Scars on small hills made by JCBs for leveling land for buildings and roads in this area of Punjab are clearly visible. The area earlier had a large number of mango and other trees.
"Strict laws are needed to save the area and people during heavy rains. Educational institutes and their students and staff remain at high risk during heavy rains," said a nearby villager Ravinder Singh.
Constructions near and in 'khuds' would have to be avoided, otherwise Punjab might see a repeat of Uttarakhand-like tragedy, he warned.
He said that the district administration should not ignore construction of temporary houses in 'khuds', which mostly remain dry but their waters wash away anything coming in the way during heavy rains, including humans.