Sutlej breach leaves residents of 20 villages in Mattewara on the edge

It was man’s determination versus nature’s fury on display as over 100 residents of the nearby villages with irrigation department staff tried their best to stop the rising water from eroding the banks.
Residents of Ghari Fazil along with employees of irrigation department plugging the breach on the banks of Sutlej river in Mattewara area in Ludhiana on Sunday.(Gurpreet Singh/HT)
Residents of Ghari Fazil along with employees of irrigation department plugging the breach on the banks of Sutlej river in Mattewara area in Ludhiana on Sunday.(Gurpreet Singh/HT)
Updated on Aug 19, 2019 12:15 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Gari Fazil (Ludhiana) | ByMohit Khanna

Nearly 30,000 residents of 20 villages in and around Mattewara are living on the edge as the swollen Sutlej river breached its banks in Gari Fazil village, approximately 45km from here on Sunday after 2.23-lakh cusec water from Ropar headworks was released. 

It was man’s determination versus nature’s fury on display as over 100 residents of the nearby villages with irrigation department staff tried their best to stop the rising water from eroding the banks. Many residents were even pressed their tractors to ferry the sand to plug the breach. 

“Due to the topography of the place, the river would hit straight at the bank of Gari Fazil,” said irrigation department JE Parminder Singh while supervising the work. 

“Hopefully the rains will stop in hilly area as it will help the water level to recede,” said the JE. 

The rising water level which was followed by erosion, led to anxiety among residents of 10 villages, including Mattewara, Sakhowal, Machian Kalan, Gari Sheru, Gari Togar and Buta among others. 

Meanwhile, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) AS Bains and SAD MLA from Sahnewal Sharanjit Singh Dhillon also visited the place to access the situation. 

Many residents were also seen collecting fodder for their cattle as the river inundated their fields. 

Sarpanch of Gari Fazil Gurnam Singh said , “The last time I had seen such situation was in 1989. The villagers are scared. If the rain doesn’t stop, our crops will be ruined. We have been told the water will keep increasing till midnight.” 

“We are placing the tree branches in the areas where the erosion has occurred. It is an emergency situation and the most effective arrangement is to protect the banks now,” said SHO at Meharban police station Kulwant Singh

“Our tubewell machines have submerged. Also, the other materials kept near the motor has been swept away. A farmer in Machian Kalan lost his livestock,” said Garri Togar village resident Gurdeep Singh. 

Deputy commissioner (DC) Pardeep Agrawal said, “The villagers had been briefed about the vulnerable points where the rising water level could erode the banks.” 

‘Illegal sand mining a threat’ 

The residents of vulnerable villages construct a gurdwara on the banks of the river at Gari Fazil to prevent any mishap.They said previously also, erosions had taken place at the same place leading to large-scale crop damage and loss of cattle and property in the nearby villages.

They also said that due to large-scale encroachment on the river bed, particularly due to the growing of poplar trees, the course of the river is also changing. 

Gari Sheru resident Surinder said illegal sand mining in the area is a serious threat to the river banks.

“A visit at night and one can see tippers carrying sand from the river banks. The movement of tractors has eroded the river bank from many places,” he added. 

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