A DAY after the breach in the Ghaggar at Sangrur’s Moonak area was plugged completely, the district Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ghanshyam Thori on Wednesday said that many farmers have volunteered to give up 20 ft of land on both sides of the river free of cost so it can be widened.
“These farmers had offered their land while interacting with water resources minister Sukhbinder Sarkaria on Sunday,” said Thori, adding that the Punjab drainage department had prepared a project worth Rs 17 crore to strengthen the river’s banks from Makror Sahib to Kurail area — a stretch where breaches have occurred in the past as well.
The DC said that the Moonak sub-divisional magistrate has been asked to prepare a detailed report on the farmers who want to donate land so as to strengthen the banks of river. A list of farmers will be made within a week.
A 17.5 km stretch of the river, which flows in a zig-zag shape, needs to be widened. A number of farmers had approached the Supreme Court earlier regarding this. Majority of them are from Haryana as part of the river flows through the state.
One of the primary causes of a breach is difference in water pressure. While a 22 km stretch has been widened, another 17.5 km is yet to be.
Water recedes, crops rotten
Meanwhile, with the breach finally plugged, stagnant water from farmlands has started receding. Babu Singh, a farmer from Surjan Bhaini, however said, “A foul smell is coming from our fields as the water is flowing back because the crop has rotted completely. We are not even able to go near the fields and we fear an outbreak of disease. This can cause mosquito breeding and hence some precautionary measures need to be taken.”
Babu said 12 acres of his paddy crop had been damaged.
A portion of the breach was left open to allow the water from the fields to flow back into the Ghaggar, sources said. Local residents said that as soon as the water drains out, this gap must be repaired immediately as it can pose a risk if it rains again and the river’s water level rises.
Farmers have also requested the administration to complete girdawari (land assessment) within a week so that they can prepare for a fresh round of sowing if compensation is released in time. “We want to sow green fodder for cattle. As of now we are dependent on the administration’s supply or that of our relatives,” said a farmer from Surjan Bhaini where 100 per cent crops have been affected, said sources.
Around 8 villages of this area have suffered 100% damage to crops apart from 30 houses, according to the government’s survey report. On Wednesday, villagers started a movement on roads, as a few link roads still had water.
According to data of state agriculture department, “15,614 acres under crops in six villages are affected. These villages are: Phoolad, Moonak, Bhunder Bhaini, Durham Bhaini, Salemgarh and Makror Sahib. Of these, 15,569 acres are affected by river water where water is receding.
Moonak SDM Suba Singh told The Indian Express, “We are waiting for the water to recede completely as employees need to be physically present in the fields to assess the damage. After that girdawari will be done. I hope it will be done at the earliest.”
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had directed officials to complete the assessment in minimum time and had also assured on Tuesday that compensation will be released the day the file comes to his table.