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Hundreds of villages in Punjab, Himachal inundated; evacuation underway

Hundreds of villages in Punjab, Himachal inundated; evacuation underway
Photo Credit : IANS

Chandigarh: Hundreds of villages in Punjab located along the swollen Satluj and Beas rivers were inundated on Wednesday with the opening of floodgates of the crucial Bhakra and Pong dams as the inflow in these reservoirs has alarmingly increased owing to torrential rains in its catchment, mainly Himachal Pradesh, in the past three days.

Rescue and evacuation of people are currently underway by teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

Authorities, however, said the inflow in the reservoirs declined significantly compared to Tuesday with the decline in the rainfall activity.

The flood gates of both dams, which serve the irrigation requirements of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, were opened to lower the reservoir level.

With the opening of the floodgates, flood-like situation prevailed mainly in Punjab’s Ropar, Anandpur Sahib and Hoshiarpur districts and Himachal’s Kangra district.

In Punjab, the inundation of villages has been reported second time within a month, severely impacting the standing crops.

Education Minister Harjot Singh Bains said due to releases from the Bhakra Dam some villages have been severely affected in his Anandpur Sahib constituency.

“Please don’t panic or trust rumours. We are evacuating people in danger zone. The district administration and the NDRF are offering full assistance,” he said.

“For the past three the inflow in all three rivers – the Beas, the Satluj and the Ravi — was very high. Today it has come down drastically. We have declined the discharges from both Bhakra and Pong dams as already there was a problem of flooding in downstream areas of Punjab and Himachal,” an official of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) told IANS on Wednesday.

While the Bhakra dam is built on the Sutlej river, the Pong dam is on the Beas and the Ranjit Sagar on the Ravi.

At present the water level in the Bhakra dam’s Gobind Sagar reservoir and the Pong dam reservoir stood at 1,677 feet and over 1,390 feet, respectively, said an official of the BBMB, which manages both the dams built on the Punjab-Himachal border.

Himachal Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu said more than 800 people were evacuated from the low-lying areas of Kangra near the Pong Dam till Wednesday as their villages became inaccessible due to the elevated water level in the dam reservoir.

“Evacuation operation is still on as more people are being evacuated,” he added.

The Pong dam on Tuesday released almost 1.5 cusecs of water that led to severe flooding in areas of Indora and Fatehpur in Kangra.

The NDRF and SDRF teams are on the spot but due to heavy flow and the rescue operations, officials said.

The official data said the water level in Bhakra Dam is still three feet below the upper limit, while it has crossed the limit of 1,390 feet in Pong Dam reservoir.

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