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PESHAWAR, June 15: Abrupt discharge of water from the Warsak reservoir has inundated agricultural land and damaged sugarcane crop along the banks of the River Kabul, officials and farmers said.

Farmers of Mian Gujar village, some 20km from Peshawar, said water level in the River Naguman, an artery of the River Kabul, rose abruptly on Thursday night which damaged sugarcane and vegetable crops in the catchment areas.

Water is still standing in the fields along the river bank and it is fast eroding agricultural land due to non-existence of protection walls.

Abdul Baqi, a local farmer, said the flood had damaged his sugarcane crop cultivated over 20 acres on the dried river bed. He said the villagers were issued warning quite late and it was not possible for them to vacate their houses on such a short notice. However, he said no loss of human life was reported.

Local people said flood water was still eroding the agricultural land in Kandar, Jala and other catchment areas of the River Kabul. An official said the provincial flood commission has asked the Afghan Commissionerate to remove Hajizai refugee camp, situated near the River Kabul, ahead of coming Moonsoon.

It is learnt that the management of Warsak Dam had opened spillways to flush out silt from the reservoir to maintain its storage capacity, which raised the water level downstream.

Officials of the NWFP Flood Relief Commission said that the Warsak Dam management opened the spillways which caused flood situation in the river and the administration had to warn before-hand the people living along the river and in low-lying areas to shift to safer areas.

Provincial flood relief commissioner Ziarat Khan told Dawn that the Warsak Dam management had been asked to release water gradually to avoid major losses. He said the area from Hajizai to Nowshera Kalan downstream had been declared sensitive and the dam management had been directed not to release water abruptly in future.

An official of the Warsak Dam when contacted said that water level in the reservoir rose beyond its capacity and the management had to open dam gates immediately. The reservoir storage capacity was around 25,000 cusec, while few days back its level rose to 64,000 cusec, he said.

The irrigation department officials forecast high flood in rivers Kabul and Indus due to widespread rains and snowfall in winter.

The provincial flood relief commission had set up a flood warning centre in Peshawar 16 days ahead of the flood season.

The officials said the situation along rivers Kabul and Indus in Dera Ismail Khan and some areas of River Swat were very sensitive as the irrigation department had no resources to adopt preemptive measures for the safety of the people, communication and agricultural land.

The sources said the NWFP government had released only Rs14.453 million against the approved budget of Rs48.03 million, demanded for anti-flood measures for 2002-03. The provincial chief engineer of the irrigation department had informed the federal flood commission that restoration and repair work could not be undertaken in the province due to shortage of funds.

Initially, the officials said the department had demanded Rs235 million from the provincial government for restoration and repair of embankments in the province.