Flood fury: Death toll in Punjab, Haryana rises to 62 as both states ramp up repair, relief work

Over 26,000 people have so far been evacuated to safer places from waterlogged areas in flood-hit districts of Punjab and more than 5,917 in Haryana.
Volunteers make an embankment in a flooded area after the breach in the Sutlej river, in Jalandhar district, Saturday, July 15, 2023. (Photo | PTI)
Volunteers make an embankment in a flooded area after the breach in the Sutlej river, in Jalandhar district, Saturday, July 15, 2023. (Photo | PTI)

CHANDIGARH: At least 62 people lost their lives in rain-related incidents in Punjab and Haryana during the recent spell of torrential downpour that battered parts of northern India, officials said on Sunday.

With floodwaters receding in many areas of the two states, authorities have started working on restoring power and water supplies and repairing damaged infrastructure in flood-hit areas, they said.

Relief work was still underway in several places, including the Sangrur and Patiala districts of Punjab, and breaches in earthen embankments along the Ghaggar river are being repaired.

Punjab Education Minister Harjot Singh Bains on Sunday said schools that were ordered to be closed till Sunday will reopen from July 17. He also asked deputy commissioners to take decisions at their own levels in case any school is waterlogged or damaged.

Several districts of Punjab and Haryana were battered by heavy downpour last week that has left normal life paralysed. According to official data, 32 people have died in Punjab because of rain-related incidents and 30 in neighbouring Haryana.

Over 26,000 people have so far been evacuated to safer places from waterlogged areas in flood-hit districts of Punjab and more than 5,917 in Haryana.

The floods caused by the rain have affected 15 districts in Punjab and 13 in Haryana.

The health department has been asked to take steps to prevent the outbreak of any water and vector-borne diseases in the flood-affected areas, the officials said.

The water level at the Hathnikund barrage in Haryana's Yamunanagar was 54,282 cusecs at 8 am which later rose to 81,430 cusecs at 2 pm and then dropped to 61,592 cusecs at 5 pm.

Speaking to reporters in Rohtak on Sunday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar hit out at the AAP leadership for blaming his state over floods in parts of Delhi, saying the blame game is neither in the interest of humanity, the state nor the country.

AAP leaders have alleged that the BJP-led government in Haryana released excessive water from the barrage which flooded the Yamuna river, with water flowing onto the streets and roads of the national capital.

The officials said efforts were underway to plug the breach that appeared along the Ghaggar river in Punjab's Mansa. The breach was formed on Saturday in an embankment near the Chandpura bundh in the Budhlada sub-division.

The breach caused water from the river to enter the fields in the district's Gorakhnath and Birewala Dogran villages. It is feared that water may enter other villages as well, the officials said.

The Mansa district administration has already set up several relief camps for flood-affected people, they said, adding that the ravaging Ghaggar has also inundated swathes of agricultural fields in Haryana's Fatehabad district.

In Punjab's Hoshiarpur, several villages in the Dasuya sub-division were inundated following heavy overnight rain, prompting authorities to shift some residents to safer places, the officials said on Sunday.

Patiala Deputy Commissioner Sakshi Sawhney said the administration has started work on resuming the supply of drinking water, restoring electricity, and repairing the damaged infrastructure.

"We have gone through a tough situation together and as things slowly return to normalcy, I want to thank each and every person for their patience and cooperation during this time," Sawhney said to the people of Patiala.

In Sangrur, the Moonak and Khanauri areas were the worst affected with a swollen Ghaggar inundating vast tracts of land.

Deputy Commissioner Jitendra Jorwal said water has started receding gradually in the Ghaggar river and the district administration has continuously been trying to plug the breaches.

In Kapurthala, as the water level in the flood-affected areas in Sultanpur Lodhi started receding, the district administration said it is fully geared up to implement measures to prevent water-borne diseases. Public announcements were also being made in flood-hit areas, asking people to boil water before drinking. The authorities were also providing cattle feed and fodder in flood-hit areas.

In Punjab, a total of 148 relief camps are functioning where 3,731 people have been sheltered, the officials said.

A total of 1,414 villages in 15 districts have been affected by floods in the state, they said.

Meanwhile, Khattar said a report of assessment of the losses caused to life and property in the state is expected to come from affected districts in the next two days.

"But according to the information so far, 30 people have lost their lives, 133 houses have been completely damaged, 183 houses partially damaged and 110 animals have died," he said.

Khattar said farmers will be asked to register their losses on the 'e-fasal Kshatipoorti' portal and after that, a survey will be done.

In Haryana, 5,917 people have so far been evacuated to safe places with nearly 1,300 villages being ravaged by the floods.

Thirty-seven relief camps have been opened in the state where 2,852 people have taken shelter, according to Haryana government data updated till 5 pm on Sunday.

The government said 1.72 lakh hectares of agricultural area were destroyed in the floods.

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