Residents of the Mand area comprising as many as 16 villages in Sultanpur Lodhi subdivision of the district are finding it difficult to reach their homes, after the public works department (PWD) removed the pontoon bridge installed on the Beas citing rise in water levels in the river due to heavy rain.
Nearly 5,000 people from these remote villages located on this island surrounded by the Beas are left with no option but to travel on boats to reach the nearby towns or to return home.
With the onset of the rainy season, water starts entering these villages every year, damaging their paddy crop cultivated over hundreds of acres in the area.
As per information, paddy crop over 5,000 acres of a total of 12,000 acres has been damaged due to overflow of river water, which spills over the village roads and fields, creating a flood-like situation in the area.
The residents of the island, spread over nearly 25 square kilometres, have to cover long distances by walking on foot as plying vehicles on
the roads is not possible.
“It takes three hours to reach my school as it takes a lot of time to cross the roads filled with water. Then, we have to wait for a boat. I have to leave my house at 5am to reach school in time,” Karanjit Singh, a Class 8 student said.
Kiran, another student, said, “I have to change my clothes at someone’s house after crossing the island as water spread on the roads wets my dress.”
Bishan, a farmer who was carrying fodder on his shoulders, said he has to walk on the water-filled road for five kilometres to reach his fields everyday.
“Due to the government’s apathy we are facing a worse situation and 50 per cent of our time is wasted in walking on the water-filled roads,” he added.
Kuldeep Singh, a member of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, has demanded that a permanent bridge be constructed on the river, as was promised by the ruling party during the assembly elections.
“Only a proper bridge can make our lives easy,” he said.
Sultanpur Lodhi MLA Navtej Singh Cheema, when contacted, said deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal who had promised to start “buses on water” should start the service from here the area is in the dire need of the same.