In 16 villages of this area flooded by the Beas river, neither villagers are willing to leave home nor the administration is prepared to provide them with any help.
In Sultanpur Lodhi tehsil of Kapurthala district, 23,212 acres belonging to 88 villages is under water, of which the Mand area is worst affected, with boats the only remaining link to its villages. Of the 30 rescue boats in operation, only eight belong to the administration and only one has a motor attached. Influential people have arranged own boats.
“Of more than 3,000 people in 16 villages of the riverbed area, most live in registered houses,” said villager Sarwan Singh of Baupur, adding: “We have not received any help, so far, from the district administration, and we are together fighting for survival.”
All villagers of Baupur have become habitual of floods and no subsequent assistance from the government. Except last year, they had seen floods every year. “The government is happy to pay farmers more than Rs 20 crore every year in compensation but not ready to spend less than Rs 5 crore on building a safe check dam that will save our villages,” said Sarwan Singh.
Villagers moved a demand for check dam between Sardullapur and Aahli Khurd villages to principal secretary of irrigation Sarvesh Kaushal when he visited the area on Monday along with senior officials. said villager “Most farmers have moved families and children to safer areas but except our Patwari, no one from the administration has reached the villages to understand the situation of stranded people,” said Bakshish Singh of Rampur Gorey. “They ask us to abandon our home. How can we? Who will take care of our belongings and livestock? In every house, we have only men staying back for caretaking.”
The villagers’ spirit is high, as they understood clearly that they have to help themselves and each other. At every house, visiting journalists are offered tea and refreshment, and even in distress, the hosts don’t forget to smile. Travelling a kilometre on water takes two hours because of wind.
“We have accepted our fate. If we leave, the government will not give us alternative livelihood. From children to grownups, everyone has adjusted,” said villager Major Singh of Sherpur Changra. “Officers come holding the check dam plans and then the convoys leave as they arrive. To them, we the riverbed people are all water animals,” said villager Hardeep Singh of Baupur Jadid.