LUDHIANA: The recent floods in Punjab, which affected Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Ferozepur, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts adversely, do not seem to be all a natural calamity. According to the irrigation Engineers of the Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana, these floods were very much a manmade, with the major share of the blame going to Bhakha dam authorities. The Bhakha authorities in a press release, issued at Chandigarh on September 12, claimed that the Bhakha reservoir had attained the highest level of 1687.47 ft. It was above the maximum storage level of 1685 ft designed for the dam.

The P.A.U Engineers interpret that the excess level was attained by filling the flood storage capacity of the dam which can store about one lac cusic extra water. The Bhakra press release claimed that the excess water was sufficient to produce 59 million tons of additional power and could irrigate one lac acres of each crop. Had this flood storage capacity not been filled beforehand, it could have been properly utilized to accumulate the excess water due the heavy rains in the catchment area and the impact of the subsequent floods could have been reduced.

According to these sources the flood storage capacity is meant only to put to use in case of emergency when there is actually a danger of floods.

According to highly well-placed sources, this step of storing more. Water was taken to please the higher up sin Delhi, when the dam was celebrating its silver Jubilee. An attempt to generate extra power which was to be a boom to Delhi turned out to be a criminal bane to Punjab. The Engineers felt that the delay in raising the extra water in Bhakra reservoir could have been utilized to fore warn the people of Punjab about the danger of impending floods.

The Engineers called for proper communication between the dam authorities and those responsible for the control of floods in the Punjab.

The PHRO‘s chairman Justice Ajit Singh Bains blamed Bhakhra management board for its criminal negligence and attempt to play to the gallery in Delhi.

BJP leaders Yagya Datt Sharma and Madam Mohan Mittal squarely blamed BBMB for these. Man-made flash floods which has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people and destroyed the rice crops in 8 districts and damaged huge property. They demanded a high level enquiry into the circumstances of holding water in dam reservoir and then releasing it in an abnormal manner.

Political circles in Punjab have taken Bhajan Lal to task for talking about the benefit of these flash floods to Punjab.

Article extracted from this publication >> October 7, 1988