Chandigarh: Freshly sown paddy crop in thousands of acres of fertile agricultural land has been destroyed in nearly four days of flood fury in some districts of Haryana and Punjab - the states that are the biggest food grain contributors to the national kitty.
Eleven deaths have been reported so far -- six in Punjab and five in Haryana -- with 4-5 people missing after being washed away in both states. Heavy rain followed by breaches in rivers and irrigation canals in some areas of both states caused flooding since Tuesday.
The worst affected districts in Haryana are Ambala, Kurukshetra and Kaithal while in Punjab, Patiala and Sangrur districts have been affected.
The Army has been called in flood-affected areas of the Kurukshetra, Ambala and Kaithal districts in Haryana. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) volunteers and boats are also assisting in rescue and relief operations.
About 100,000 acres of agriculture land in nearly 250 villages in these districts has been affected by flood water. Areas where paddy and maize crops are grown have been affected due to stagnant flood water.
Due to the breach in the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal and heavy rains, Thanesar, Pehowa and Shahabad tehsils and Ismailabad and Babain sub-tehsils have been affected by the floods in Kurukshetra district.
The breach in the Ghaggar river, which flows through Haryana and Punjab and is in spate, and the Hansi-Butana canal near the Haryana-Punjab border near Tatiana village in Kaithal district has led to flooding of several new villages.
"Our houses are under 3-4 feet of water. The authorities are not providing any help but only asking us to leave the flooded areas. We cannot leave our homes, families and livestock like this," said farmer Swarn Singh who lives near the flood-affected Tatiana village.
Additional Principal Secretary (to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda), Anuradha Gupta, who visited the flood-affected areas Thursday, said: "Army and other authorities are trying to plug the breach in the canals."
Kurukshetra Deputy Commissioner Pankaj Aggarwal ordered that all schools in the district be shut till Friday.
The state government has cancelled the leave of all government employees in Ambala, Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts and recalled them on duty to deal with the situation.
The state government and district authorities are facing criticism for not carrying out flood protection work in time to prevent flooding and also lacking in response after flooding took place.
Water and power supply has not been restored to most areas of the affected districts in Haryana even after four days.
Heavy rainfall and breaches washed away the National Highway (NH-65) between Ambala and Hisar cities in Haryana on Thursday.
A state government spokesman said the NH-65 had been damaged at the 20-km point from Ambala near Naggal village.
Haryana`s Director General of Police (DGP) Ranjeev Dalal on Thursday appealed to people not to take the highway to and from Hisar.
Dalal said those wishing to go to Hisar (from Ambala) should go via Karnal, Nissing and Kaithal road.
The repair work had been entrusted to the Army and the movement of vehicles on this road would be restored on Friday evening, he added.
Train traffic on the busy Ambala-Delhi section has also been disrupted with the tracks sinking near Shahbad town, 65 km from here. Some trains on the affected route were diverted through Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.
District authorities in Mansa, Sangrur, Ferozepur and Moga district have been put on high alert with rivers flowing at higher water levels.
Nearly 150 villages have been affected by flooding in Punjab`s Patiala and Sangrur districts.
Standing paddy crop has been damaged extensively in parts of Punjab also.