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Monsoon fury: Rescue operations underway in Pb, Hry as several villages remain inundated

twitter-logoPTI | August 21, 2019 | Updated 21:42 IST

(Eds: Adding details) Chandigarh, Aug 21 (PTI) Hundreds of acres of agricultural fields and several villages remain inundated in Punjab and Haryana even though no rainfall was reported in the two states for the last two days, allowing authorities to conduct rescue operations on Wednesday. Helicopters of the Army were pressed into service to airdrop food packets in flood-hit villages of Punjab's Jalandhar district as they remain inundated because of breaches in the earthen embankments of the Sutlej river. Sixteen Army teams from Vajra Corps of Western Command carried out rescue operations in Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts and also helped in plugging the breaches along the Sutlej river, according to an official statement. Following the recent rains and the release of excess water from the Bhakra Dam, the Sutlej river and its tributaries had flooded villages in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Rupnagar, causing damage to crops and houses in low-lying areas. The water has started receding in the swollen rivers in Punjab and Haryana with no fresh spell of rainfall in the past two days, but hundreds of acres of agricultural fields and several villages remain inundated. The Punjab government on Wednesday sought Rs 1,000 crore from the Centre as special flood relief package for the loss caused by recent floods in the state. At several places, voluntary organisations and religious bodies have set up 'langars' to provide food to the people devastated by the floods. Several villages in Jalandhar district have been worst hit. The food packets comprising 36,000 'paranthas', 18,000 packets of dry ration and water bottles were transported to Jalandhar Cantt on Wednesday morning. From there it were loaded into six Army helicopters under the supervision of the deputy commissioner and the senior superintendent of police, the statement said. Later, the Army helicopters airdropped the packets in the worst affected villages of Shahkot sub-division, including Chakk Badala, Jania, Jania Chahal, Mehrajwala, Gatta Mundi Kasu, Mundi Kasu, Mundi Shehriya, Mundi Chohlian, Kang Khurd, Jalalpur, Theh Khushalgarh, Gatti Raipur, Kotha, Fatehpur Bhagwan, it said. Officials said airdropping of food packets will continue in the marooned villages with the help of the Army till the situation normalises. In neighbouring Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected areas in Karnal, Panipat and Sonipat. The water level in the Yamuna river had risen earlier after release of 8.28 lakh cusecs of water from Hathnikund barrage in Yamunanagar after which districts areas like Karnal, Panipat, Sonipat, Faridabad and Palwal were put on high alert. The flooding in river Sutlej due to the discharge of water from the Bhakra Dam, the heaviest since 1958, has caused extensive damage to the standing crops and inundation of residential areas in the villages in Punjab. Early estimates suggested the damage to be to the extent of Rs 1,700 crore. People could be seen struggling to clean their dwellings to get on with life -- this was the scene in several flood-ravaged villages of Punjab. The floodwaters from the Sutlej river and the Budhki rivulet entered villages in Rupnagar district, which is one of the worst affected. The floodwaters also entered the campus of IIT Rupnagar. "I have lost my everything in this flood. My house has been damaged and even the household belongings have become useless due to flood waters," said an elderly man from Rupnagar's Phool Kalan village. In Ferozepur district too, many villages which are close to the Indo-Pak border have been inundated. "The government must give us suitable compensation, said a villager who lives close to the International Border. Punjab Local Bodies Minister Brahm Mohindra has issued strict directions to ensure comprehensive measures to keep a check on the outbreak of any disease in the state, especially in the low-lying areas in view of recent heavy rains. Meanwhile, the Bhakra Beas Management Board said it handled the situation brought about by the recent rains in Punjab in the "most professional" manner. PTI SUN CHS VSD SNE SNE

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