The continuous change in the course of a river is threatening the existence of a village near Pathankot, whose residents have already lost acres of their fertile land to the gushing water.
Residents of Mazra village blame the irrigation department, which despite spending crores of rupees on erecting crates to prevent the river swallowing up their land, have failed to solve the problem.
Pointing out the cracks that have appeared near the banks of the Madhopur Beas Link river, residents Baldev Raj Kalra and Narinder Singh Walia said almost daily a chunk of land fell into the river. “The flow of the water is just 20 metres away from the only connecting road,” they said. “At this speed of erosion, the road will fall into the river, cutting off the link to this village in a few days.”
Showing the stone dykes put up to stem the water flow, Walia said: “These might have cost crores of rupees, but have served little purpose. Only the officials can answer why that is so. A little effort to deepen the river bed could have saved our land and the state exchequer’s money.”
Walia said he had filed a case in the Punjab and Haryana high court against the irrigation department, after which the court sent a commission to find the reasons for the wastage of fertile land and finance of the state.
“We are awaiting the decision of the court and hoping that something positive will be done before the water swallows the whole road,” Walia said.
The link river supplies water to Rajasthan for which it pays a hefty amount to the irrigation department to look after the works in the canal.
Although the portion of the canal in Punjab is channelised, in Himachal Pradesh it is not, because of which it is causing damage to fertile land there too. The irrigation department is supposed to utilise its funds to maintain the entire course of the river.
Asked why the department was unable to prevent land from falling into the river, executive engineer Rachpal Singh said, “I have been transferred, so I cannot comment on this.”
Rachpal was also not sure about the status of the case filed against the department and any decision pertaining to it.
However, a junior engineer on condition of anonymity said the Rajasthan government had been sent the demand and funds were being sought to tackle the loss of land. The junior engineer added that his superior, sub-divisional officer BR Sharma had gone to attend another court case.