Water levels in several districts are continuing to rise. In River Sutlej water levels at Head Gunda Singh have reportedly reached the maximum level at 19 feet.
Several villages have been inundated and patrolling units have lost land contact with other places. “We had already evacuated most of these villages but there are small settlements that need to be evacuated. There may still be some people who are trapped,” said a border military police (BMP) officer Javed Kohna. Kohna added that district officials had requested medical teams on the ground to help curb a gastroenteritis epidemic in the area.
According to the Irrigation Department, the discharge of water at Head Gunda Singh has reached 65,000 cusecs and this is being regarded as a low intensity flood as yet. “Water levels could increase by tomorrow evening but we do not expect them to exceed 70,000 cusecs,” he said. Several district officials said that final sweeps of abandoned villages were being carried out to ensure that the houses were unoccupied". Officials said that people from villages Chanda Singh Wala, Dhoop Sari, Sehjara, Bheki Wand and other areas were being moved to higher ground.
“We are trying to move the people as fast as possible but the process is tedious because many are travelling with their animals and all of their belongings. We are also finalising the temporary shelters and relief camps in the main city to house them,” a tehsil official said.
In Vehari, water levels have already exceeded the limits and several villages near Head Islam have been inundated. Water levels in the River Sutlej are continuously increasing and acres of irrigated land have also been destroyed.
“Nearly 21,000 cusecs of water has entered the barrages and 18,000 cusecs has been discharged,” said a district official Asim Ghazanfar. “Several villages have already been submerged and evacuations are underway.
Villages Noon, Khatchi, and Towana have been completely submerged and thousands are being shifted to higher ground,” he said.
District officials said that rescue workers had arrived at the scene but there was still a dire need of medical aid at the evacuation sites. “Rescue workers are helping us recover people but there are no medical supplies for injured parties,” Ghazanfar said.
People have started moving to higher ground but flood victims said that they were facing a severe shortage of food and medicine. “Many people have contracted water borne diseases and infections. There is a gastro epidemic and several young children have been vomiting non stop. We have requested mobile medical teams to be deployed in the area as soon as possible,” the official said.
After the Indian government issued a notice saying that they would be discharging an additional 50,000 cusecs in River Sutlej, Rescue 1122 and other departments have set up relief camps at Head Islam and are working to cope with the situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.