Getting flood-ready: Residents of 20 Jalandhar villages start desilting Sutlej
After facing huge financial loss due to the floods in August last in Shahkot sub-division of Jalandhar district, local residents of 20 villages along with religious bodies and Indian Railways have started desilting of Sutlej near a 100-year-old rail-and-road bridge at Gidderpindi village in Lohian Khas. As many as 94 Jalandhar villages were worst hit due to the floods last year. Maximum loss was reported in Lohian Khas area of Shahkot sub-division.
The residents of 20 villages, including Mandiala channa, Mundi Kalo and Darewal, had formed a committee ‘Harh Roko Lok Committee, Gidderpindi Halqa’ supported by noted environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal, who is supervising the desilting process.
Around 100 people have been putting their efforts since Thursday and three excavator machines have been deployed to dig mud. The dug-up mud is being deposited at ‘dhusi band’ to strengthen it.
The villagers said the exercise was imperative as flood water under the railway bridge did not pass due to the blockage by mud and weed, resulting in breaches in the river.
Lakhwinder Singh, one of the members, said that the villagers held a meeting with the officials of the Indian Railways, irrigation department and district administration before launching the desilting drive. Railways has provided two excavators and is bearing diesel cost of rented tractor trolleys, while one excavator was hired by Baba Seechewal, he said.
“It has been decided that mud would be only used at ‘dhusi band’ in the places permitted by the state and central departments to widen and raise its height during the meeting of all stakeholders,” added Lakhwinder.
Kewal Singh, a committee member, said we have collected ₹500 per acre from the farmers of 20 villages whose lands are around the river. He said that around ₹15 lakh has been collected and we are also getting Baba Seechwal’s support. A Bathinda-based advocate has also donated ₹2 lakh for the drive, he added.
Jalandhar sub-divisional officer, drainage department, Amarjit Singh, who is supervising the desilting process, said that width of the bandh will be extended up to 22feet (earlier 15 feet) and its height will be also increased.
Anurag Kumar, divisional engineer, Northern Railway, Ferozepur, said that the Indian Railways has begun dredging and trenching of the Sutlej as water is flowing through only four of the twenty spans of the railway bridge currently, while rest are blocked.
“We have planned to construct longitude drains under the bridge for uniform flow of water. In case of excess water release in future, they will allow a balance flow in these spans,” said Kumar, adding that Railways is bearing entire cost of machinery.
Seechewal said that blockage in the bridge span was key reason behind the breaches in the Sutlej during floods. We are now constructing a drain to divert the river water, following which we will clear blockage.
“The entire process is being run under the supervision of experts. We have also assured the farmers who had sown wheat crop near the Satluj of minimum loss to the crop. We will lift the mud from their land only once the crop is harvested,” added Seechewal.