Tarn Taran/Kapurthala, September 26: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday surveyed the flood-affected areas of Tarn Taran and Kapurthala districts to assess the damage caused by the overflowing Beas river waters and announced that the special girdawari, ordered by him earlier, will be completed at the earliest, paving way for release of compensation to the affected farmers. He also announced that compensation will also be provided to people whose houses had been damaged in the incessant rains or floods.
While directing the district officials to closely monitor the situation and ensure timely assistance to the people affected by the floods, the Chief Minister described the damage to the crops in areas around the Beas River as “considerable”. He however, said that the situation wasn’t as bad as he had envisaged before leaving for their aerial survey. He said that reports of some crop damage have also been received from districts of Gurdaspur and Amritsar, besides Tarn Taran and Kapurthala.
Allaying fears of farmers that the FCI will not procure their produce due to higher moisture content this year, the chief minister said he had already taken up the matter with the concerned authorities. “You will not face any problems in procurement”, he assured the farmers.
On landing at Amarkot helipad in Tarn Taran, the chief minister was briefed by the district officials about the flood situation. He later met the residents of the area and assured them that his government will provide all possible help to those whose crops and houses had been damaged by the incessant rains and floods. He said compensation will also be paid for loss of any livestock.
The chief minister also met the family of Gurbeer Singh (18), who was washed away in an overflowing drain on Monday. He announced a compensation of Rs 3.5 lakhs for his family.
Talking to newsmen, the Chief Minister, who has been personally monitoring the flood situation, said that the special girdawari will be conducted as soon as the flood waters recede. He said that once the Revenue Department receives the girdawari reports from the DCs, the amount of compensation will be decided on the basis of the extent of damage suffered by individuals.
Responding to a question the Chief Minister said that Punjab had rejected the union government’ crop insurance scheme, as it was against the interests of the farmers as well as of the state. He said if the Centre does not alter the scheme to meet the requirements of Punjab, the state government would come out with its own insurance policy for the benefit of farmers. He said that at present the compensation to farmers will be paid from the state government’s Calamity Fund.
Responding to a question, Captain Amarinder Singh said that his government had recently ratified the agreement signed on September 8 between the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir, as well as Commissioner Indus GoI, for immediate resumption of work on the Shahpur Kandi Dam Project. He said the project, once completed in three years, will generate 206 MW of additional Hydro Power, besides leading to optimum utilisation of Ranjit Sagar Dam’s capacity.
The Chief Minister later visited the Mand area of Sultanpur Lodhi and met the farmers, whose crops had suffered extensive damage due to flooding. Responding to their demand that all pontoon bridges in the district should be replaced with permanent ones, the chief minister said that he will take up the matter with the Union Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari.
As regards bridges that are being maintained by the Defence Ministry, the chief minister said that he had already requested the army authorities to undertake their repairs and expansions at the earliest. He said that he had asked the DCs of Tarn Taran and Amritsar to prepare a list of all such bridges and submit the same to the Army authorities.
The chief minister said that he will also seek funds from the centre for construction of spurs in River Beas for preventing floods in the future. He said these spurs were necessary for protecting the river banks by keeping the flow of water away from it. He said the flooding in Beas had occurred mainly due to rains in Himachal Pradesh and the release of water from dams there.
Meanwhile, as per data received by Water Resources Department regarding the water levels in dams at 11 am, the level stood at 1391.20 feet in Pong Dam against the maximum of 1390 feet. Though the water level had exceeded the maximum level, the situation was under control as there was no excessive inflow due to stoppage of rainfall, the officials informed the Chief Minister. The level at Bhakhra was 1660.24 against the maximum capacity of 1680 feet and at Ranjit Sagar Dam, which feeds River Raavi, it stood at 526.67 meter against the maximum level of 527.91 meter.
Information received from Meteorological Center Chandigarh on Wednesday morning showed that the skies would be clear in the coming days, barring expected rainfall in Western Punjab on September 28 and 29. Weather will be dry in Punjab during next three-four days with only occasional isolated thundercloud, the officials informed the Chief Minister, citing available data.
The chief minister was accompanied by his Media Advisor Raveen Thukral, MLA Khemkaran Sukhpal Singh Bhullar, MLA Patti S. Harminder Singh Gill, MLA Tarn Taran Dr. Dharamveer Agnihotri, MLA Sultanpur Lodhi Navtej Singh Cheema, former Minister Mr. Joginder Singh Mann, DC Tarn Taran Pardeep Sabharwal, IG SPS Parmar, Deputy Commissioner Kapurthala Mohammed Tayyab, IG Naunihal Singh, SSP Kapurthala Satinder Singh and SSP Tarn Taran Darshan Singh Maan.