CHANDIGARH: Large-scale Illegal mining, the encroachment of riverbeds along the Sutlej river, wild growth and farmer growing crops or trees in dried-up riverbeds has led to large scale flooding in the six districts of Punjab. Over 4,000 hectares of crops in the state have been completely destroyed by these floods and more than 300 villages are badly affected.
Sources said that illegal sand mining in both rivers of Sutlej and Ravi seems to have weakened dhussi bundhs, especially in Ropar district. Due to this, huge craters were formed in river beds which changed the course of the river and heavily loaded tipper-trucks carrying sand. Thus, the dhussi bandhs got damaged and during the rains and flow of water in the rivers, they gave way.
While Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal had blamed the state's ruling-Congress government for flood fury as he said that the government failed to check rampant illegal mining which had eroded river beds at several places. He alleged that the government machinery could not check this illegal mining as it is patronized by Congress leaders.
It is learnt that the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) had time and again written to the authorities and pointed out that sand mining was a serious issue. Also earlier, the World Bank had refused to fund a project for channelizing the seasonal rivulets that flow into the Sutlej due to the mining activities.
Not only illegal mining, but approximately 1.47 lakh acres of the Sutlej floodplain (land adjacent to the river) has been encroached upon near Ropar and as a result, the river is now just 20 feet wide instead of 100 feet.
Sources point out that the other factor is that the farmers have grown popular trees and crops on the dried-up river land which is on privately-owned land and in the same type of land which is owned by the government, there is wild vegetation which has not been cleared by the drainage wing of the Department of Water Resources.
An official of state agriculture department said crops on over 4,000 hectares in the state have been completely destroyed and besides that crops on 24,112 hectares got submerged in 561 villages in thirteen districts.
The maximum damage was in Ropar where crops on 1,715 hectares out of a total 4,000 hectares were completely destroyed.
Also, more than 300 villages in Ropar, Jalandhar and Ferozepur districts were badly affected.