Water recedes in Haryana, Punjab; toll 32

Chandigarh, July 10 (IANS) The toll in this week’s flooding in Punjab and Haryana has risen to 32, with the damage caused in the two states being pegged at over Rs.1,000 crore, officials said Saturday, adding that the waters had started to recede.

The Punjab government has said the state suffered losses of Rs.350 crore while Haryana pegged it at Rs.650 crore.

Haryana’s Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary (Revenue) Naresh Gulati told IANS that 11 deaths have been reported in the floods in the state so far.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said that 21 people have been killed in the floods that have affected seven districts Patiala, Sangrur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mohali, Ropar, Nawanshehr and Mansa.

Badal Saturday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to immediately send a central team to assess the loss as floods submerged over 566 villages, destroying crops in over two lakh acres.

In a communication to the prime minister, Badal said that Punjab suffered extensive damage with the record rainfall in the catchment area of the Ghaggar river, which breached at 32 places, affecting crops, human life, houses, roads and other infrastructure.

He said: ‘According to initial estimates, Punjab has suffered a loss of more than Rs.350 crore.’

With no rains in the flood-affected areas of Haryana and Punjab in the last two days, authorities stepped up the relief efforts.

District authorities and voluntary organisations tried reaching out to more people after mounting criticism from residents of the affected villages and towns over the slow response from government agencies.

Several areas in both states continued to be waterlogged Saturday, even though the water level was receding.

The army, which was called out in Ambala, Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts of Haryana earlier this week, has plugged the breach in the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who made his second trip in three days to flood-affected areas Friday evening, faced the ire of angry residents.

‘We have been spending days and nights on rooftops without food and water. Our children are hungry, our property has been destroyed and our animals have not got feed. Where is the government?’ asked a furious Krishan Pal of Narka Tari village in Kurukshetra.

Hooda, who visited Ratta Khera Kadma in Kaithal district, said all steps were being taken to supply drinking water, food and medical aid in flooded areas.

Over one lakh acres of agricultural land in Haryana is under water, with the freshly sown paddy crop destroyed.

Ambala Deputy Commissioner Samir Pal Srow said the flood water, which entered several areas of Ambala city and cantonment, had been drained out at most places.

‘The water is receding gradually in rural areas also. We have sent volunteers and relief material to the affected areas,’ he said.

The Ambala-Hisar national highway (NH-65) was opened for small vehicles Saturday after a portion of the road, which had been washed away near Naggal village, was repaired.

Train traffic on the Ambala-Delhi section, which links Delhi with Punjab, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir, was completely restored Friday.

Badal has sanctioned Rs.28 crore to the district authorities for flood relief work. Many areas of Patiala and Sangrur district continue to be under water.

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