26 villages being devoured by river erosion await help

Updated June 09, 2019

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The whole population of Langer Wah and 25 other villages on the banks of the river Indus are facing a threat from erosion of the river while the government departments are doing nothing to control the situation. — PPI/File
The whole population of Langer Wah and 25 other villages on the banks of the river Indus are facing a threat from erosion of the river while the government departments are doing nothing to control the situation. — PPI/File

MUZAFFARGARH: The whole population of Langer Wah and 25 other villages on the banks of the river Indus are facing a threat from erosion of the river while the government departments are doing nothing to control the situation.

Most of the residents of the villages, having total population of 20,000, have evacuated as the Indus ate up their houses while thousands of acres of land having cotton and sugarcane crops is also under threat.

The government authorities have not taken any steps to rescue the people or to control the erosion of the land. Ghulam Hussain, a resident of Langer Wah, told this correspondent that they did not celebrate Eid and worked on the banks of river to stop the erosion on a self-help basis while his family had left for their relatives’ home at the safer place.

Irrigation Executive Engineer Muzaffargarh Division Habib said his department had no budget for erosion cases but it would look into the matter on Monday as Eid holidays were still going on.

He said he would inform his high-ups if the situation turned out to be alarming; otherwise, erosion was natural flood and the department had no standard operating procedure for it.

Malik Nasir, another local, said the irrigation department had spent Rs100m under the head of flood control, alleging that the department did only paper work but did not construct or reconstruct the spurs or studs. He said the basic health unit and three government schools were also under threat.

Mr Habib said the land erosion by the river was not under irrigation rules but the department could do a favour to the local with stone dumping. He said the river had changed its direction to eastern side and thousands of acres had earlier been eroded by it.

Malik Sajid Mahmood, yet another villager, said they had faced floods in 2010 and 2014 but the floodwater had receded after sometime. This erosion did not look like stopping, he bemoaned.

Alipur Assistant Commissioner Amir Cheema told this correspondent that he had visited at Langer Wah to inspect the situation and on the directions of Deputy Commissioner Dr Ehtesham Anwar, the people who were at risky points were being evacuated.

He said the teams of the revenue and health departments were ready for help.

land retrieved: The deputy commissioner (DC) took action against land grabbers on Saturday who had occupied commercial land of the Muzaffargarh district council for the last 15 years in Mouza Rakh Khan.

Up to 23 kanals of the District Council in Mauza Rakh Khan were leased to Bahauddin Zakariya University clerk Sarfraz Sial who set up a cattle farm there. Later, he sold the land to local residents as a Kachi Abadi scheme.

On Saturday, DC Dr Ehtesham Anwar with Chief Officer Amir Saleem Bhatti and police officials and TMA workers visited the site and got demolished houses and the cattle farm.

Dozens of families came out from houses and protested the operation. They said they had paid money to Sarfraz.

The deputy commissioner said that the operation against land grabbers would continue.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2019