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J&K's Chenab Channelization Plan: Implementation delay leads to erosion of fertile land
Hundreds of Kanals of fertile land on both sides of river Chenab in Akhnoor tehsil of J&K has been eroded in past few years. But delay in implementation of Rs 19 crore plan of channelization of chenab, has resulted in erosion of over 100 kanals of land with standing paddy crops in month of August 2014.

Creating havoc, flooded river Chenab caused erosion of fertile land over 100 kanals worth crores of rupees in last one month at village Indri Pattan in Khour constituency. Though the Jammu and Kashmir government had formulated a comprehensive plan of Rs 19 crore to tackle the problem of soil erosion due to Chenab but it did not see the day of light.

The extensive tour of the ministers to flood affected areas failed to bring any relief to the people as no concrete effort was made to save the agricultural land. The rural population who had lost faith in the local administration said that embankments at the village along river Chenab have suffered damage at several places and over 100 kanals of land has been washed away due to erosion along right bank of Chenab and the flood has also caused extensive damage to the standing crop.

Though the Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, who happens to be local MLA, paid visit to the area recently along with his team of officers but that too brought no concrete results to save the erosion of land. In past years, hundreds of kanals of land was stated to have been washed away due to erosion caused by flood in Jourian and Khour areas.

Villagers alleged that Flood Control Department starts no work in winter season but wakes up from its deep slumber in rainy season and under the pretext of doing public works indulge in loot of the exchequer. They alleged that cosmetic tinkering here and there is done by the Department to the embankments of the River Chenab which get washed away when the level of the river rises.

But much work is shown to be done on papers and huge amounts are drawn from the public exchequer by the worthies of Flood Control Department, the farmers alleged, adding the quality of work as per the set specifications is not maintained due to which funds are not used judiciously.

Jagan Nath, Ashok Sharma, Suraj Parkash, Rattan Lal Sharma, Bihari Lal, Joker Ram, Master Chaggar Singh, Bulli Ram, Puran Singh Manhas, Rattan Lal, Parkash Kumar and others farmers, whose land has been washed away, said the condition of the river Chenab embankments were in extremely dilapidated and poor condition and consequently having got washed away huge swaths of fertile land.

They said the winter season in Jammu division is so conducive for carrying out the flood protection works as the water in River Chenab flows at the lowest level. But department neither conducts survey to identify the vulnerable flood prone spots nor start work for plugging in winter posing threat to the agricultural land.

Senior Congress leader Jagan Nath Mashar said hundreds of kanals of land in the area has been washed away by floods and demanded that technical experts should be roped in to chalk out viable measures to deal with the floods in river Chenab and minimize the loss to life and property due to change of course of the river during the rainy season. The embankments need strengthening in the winter months in effective and robust manner, he said.

He demanded that the flood and rain affected areas be identified by the concerned officials and funds be provided to Flood Control Department to install adequate number of crates, protection walls at places where needed.

People have urged the authorities to take up proper assessment of damages and losses caused by floods including standing crops and agricultural land in their area to compensate the affected people in the shortest possible time.

Panch Bihari Lal said that the eroded land, and damaged crops should be surveyed, loss assessed and compensation paid to the aggrieved farmers. Though a comprehensive proposal for channelizing the river Chenab at different locations was said to be approved to the tune of Rs 19 crore, which will be spent in phased manner but that that too didn't see the day of light.

"We have been hearing from the statements of ministers that the government has formulated a comprehensive plan of Rs 19 crore to tackle the problem but nothing was done on grounds in this connection," said Madan Lal, another farmer.

Last year Minister Sham Lal Sharma had issued a press statement that Rs 9.5 crore would be spent on Chenab River channelizing around Akhnoor in the fiscal but nothing was done to save the fertile land from erosion during floods, alleged another farmer Bulli Ram.

They said a special package for those affected with flood should be provided to pay adequate compensation to those who have suffered losses due to floods. Suraj Parkash, another farmer said the authorities should ensure that all works are done on high priority so that damages are restricted to the minimum and people do not suffer due to non availability of required men and machinery.

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