Hansali, a rainy nullah, which has proved a lifeline for people every time a flood has hit the town, has become a victim of apathy.
The drainage department and the local municipal council have failed to maintain cleanliness of Hansali, which would drain excess rainwater.
After floods in 1955, the drain was reconstructed in 1960. It flows from the Apar Bari Doab canal and moves towards Pakistan. The nullah has saved Batala from flooding many times by channelising huge quantity of rainwater.
During the 1988 deluge, too, Batala was saved from flooding as Hansali drained out excess water. However, owing to the negligence of the drainage department, silt collected in the drain in the next four years.
With time, the bridge corroded and it fell, letting rainwater flood the town in 1992. At that time, thousands of people were forced to spend three days and nights on rooftops, coming face-to-face with death. There was nothing to eat or little to drink. The situation was worse for residents in Urban Estate, Shastri Nagar, Issa Nagar, Bank colony, Khajuri Gate, Dharampura Colony, Murgi Mohalla, Dera Road and City Road, where people gasped for fresh air as the stench from decomposed carcasses of animals lying unattended in pools of water was unbearable.
All this happened because Hansali was not taken care of and when it chocked, it broke its banks, as if it is trying to avenge for misery heaped on it.
For the last many months, all the sites being used by the municipal administration to dump garbage of the town are overflowing. Unable to find any other site to dump the garbage, the municipal council is putting the entire burden on Hansali drain, which is already chocked. This has increased the chances of floods, as water level from many adjoining canals has started rising with heavy rainfall in mountains.
A few months back, the drainage department has sent a notice to Batala municipal council against the dumping of garbage in the drain, but to no avail.
Though residents of adjoining localities have approached the council authorities many times and apprised them of the problem, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Residents also alleged that due to increasing pollution in the drain, groundwater in the adjoining localities was getting polluted, forcing them to arrange drinking water from far-off areas.
Drainage department executive engineer Sohan Lal was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.
Refuting the allegations, Batala municipal council executive officer Rakesh Khokhar said the council had taken land on lease at Massanian village, where they were dumping the entire garbage of the city.