Indifferent to the loss of lives, crops and property due to breaches caused by rains in dhussi bandhs situated on the banks of the Sutlej river, passing through almost a 100-kilometre stretch of the district, the state government has sanctioned only `4.97 crore for the repair and maintenance work at these bandhs, against the requisite estimate of `14.11 crore.
Moreover, despite the deputy commissioner (DC) sending the request for sanctioning of the amount in January this year, the funds were released only last month.
Year after year, a large number of villages on the banks of the Sutlej get badly affected during monsoons as the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) releases water from Bhakra Dam into the river, causing a flood-like situation.
The situation, in fact, got out of hand in 2010, as there were heavy rains and the Sutlej water flooded into the houses and fields of people living in villages on the river bank. The district administration was on its toes for almost a week to bring the situation under control, as one after the other breach appeared in the dhussi bandhs.
The administration has declared 15 points, including Khera Bet, Mattewara, Garhi, Garhi Fazal, Togar, Seekhewal, Machiankalan, Machian Khurd, Kassabad, Maddepur and Dhulewal, sensitive as the flow of water is very fast at these points, necessitating repair and maintenance of dhussi bandhs constructed here.
Fearing a heavy rainfall, residents of all these villages are a worried lot and have been requesting the administration to repair the dhussi bandhs before the onset of monsoons.
Rashpal Singh, a resident of Khera Bet, said: "This is one of the most sensitive areas, but every year our requests for timely measures fall on deaf ears. The drainage department starts work just before the onset of monsoon. We are keeping our fingers crossed, as farmers incurred losses due to untimely rains during the last crop season as well."
However, due to the government's failure to release the funds on time, the drainage department could do little to fortify the bandhs.
ANOTHER REQUEST WENT UNHEARD
Keeping in mind the risk flooding waters pose to people in the season from May to September, the DC had also requested the Punjab chief secretary, as back as in October 2014, to make provisions for imposing fine on people bathing in the river and canals, installation of warning boards at all sensitive points, installation of watch towers with deployments of staff on special duty and identification and training of divers so as to save people from drowning. The government, however, has chosen to ignore the request.