CHINIOT -  The affected villagers have been left in the lurch by the government after a canal breach had damaged thousands of acres of farmland and hundreds of houses in various villages here last Tuesday.

The canal breach damaged hundreds of houses in villages Chak 128/JB, Chak 131/JB, Chak 132/JB and other areas. Although the water flow was stopped after 36 hours of the efforts of the Irrigation Department along with the district administration but the discharge was so large in quantity that it reached a large area of farmlands even some 8 kilometers away from breach site.

After the water receded and vacated from the houses and people turned back to reconstruct their houses, the people are now facing a number of challenges in restarting their routine life. "The biggest problem being faced by us is unavailability of the green fodder for our animals. As the crop has been destroyed, nothing is available for animals," said Muhammad Bakhsh, a farmer of Thathian village.

"It was like a nightmare; we were asleep in our farmhouse near Chak No 128 JB Thathian village. Someone screamed flood hit the area and we suddenly woke up and came out to see the waves of floodwater coming to our farms and also to our mud house," told Nooran Bibi whose mud house caved in as a result of canal breach and crops were also damaged.

She added, "We crossed the floodwater and moved to Faisalabad-Chiniot Highway bank whose level is higher and stayed the night there. Our valuables and household items including wheat stock was destroyed by water and we were helpless. Soon after police and rescue workers also reached and started shifting the other families stuck in water to the safer places."

Qaiser A Sheikh, MNA of the area visited the affected villages, distributed fodder for the animals. He also demanded Punjab government take note of the situation and provide the afectees with some eatables and fodder for their animals. He also demanded government declare the area as calamity hit as the losses were more than the routine floods.

Deputy Director Agriculture Shahid Ahmad said that the department would conduct a survey regarding the damage and submit a report to high-ups for compensation. Chiniot Deputy Commissioner Ayub Khan Baloch said that the district administration and departments concerned rescued the people and their valuables and cattle soon after the breach and will compensate the affectees after estimation of damage. He also said that probe was also started to check the reasons of breach at a massive scale in the canal.