An enclave cut off from nearby towns where all the streets, houses and fields are filled with knee-deep water and where there is no hospital, market and education institution - this is how the residents of the Mand area comprising 16 villages in Sultanpur Lodhi subdivision of Kapurthala district are leading their life as a matter of routine.
The area, located on an island surrounded by the Beas, has a population of 5,000 who are left with no option but to travel by boats to reach the nearby towns or return home after the public works department (PWD) recently removed the pontoon bridge installed on the river, citing rise in water levels due to heavy rain.
Residents of Mand area sitauted on island of Beas sitting in boat to cross the river in Sultanpur Lodhi. (Parampreet Singh Narula/HT photo)
Shockingly, there is no hospital and market in the area which has just two schools which too have been lying abandoned, with no teacher ready to get posted there.
There are two teachers hired on temporary basis at Government Secondary School, Baupur, with around 150 students while Government Primary School is lying closed as it has no teacher or staff.
Residents of the area have to go either to Sultanpur Lodhi, Kapurthala, the district headquarters, or other nearby towns to avail of medical emergency care or buy household items, for which they need to cross the river by travelling long distances on foot.
While the water level in the area, spread over nearly 25 square kilometres, was knee-deep a week ago, it has grown to more than three feet now. People have to travel by boat as plying vehicles or walking on the roads is difficult amid high water levels.
Besides entering houses, water has inflicted the maximum damage on the paddy crop cultivated over thousands of acres in the area.
Till a week ago, paddy crop was damaged on nearly 5,000 acres, and the damage has now grown to over a total of 12,000 acres with the rise in river water, which spills over to village roads and fields, creating a flood-like situation.
A boy going towards Government Primary School in Sangra village in Mand area, crossing a water-filled road in Sultanpur Lodhi. (Parampreet Singh Narula/HT Photo)
"I had a tough time when my husband took me on his shoulders to the boat. We had to travel 15 kilometres to reach hospital," said Prabhdeep Kaur, a housewife, who delivered a baby girl on Monday.
Local residents have to stock required household items in their houses as there is not even a single shop in the entire area.
Most of the children have to go to Sultanpur Lodhi to attend school. They end up wasting a major chunk of their time in travelling as it takes at least three hours for them to reach their school, while crossing the river and covering water-filled roads.
Sultanpur Lodhi sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Gurjit Singh said the authorities at Harike headworks have stopped releasing water into the river and the water level will start decreasing soon.
"Taking precautionary measures, we have established relief centres to provide help in case of any emergency. Medicines and feed for animals are also being distributed," he said.