पंजाब समाचार

Illegal mining endangers 5 bridges over Ghaggar

COURTESY TOI JULY 14

Illegal mining endangers 5 bridges over Ghaggar
Part Of One Falls; 35 Villages Cut Off; Foundations Stand Exposed
Manish.Sirhindi@timesgroup.com

Patiala:

The unabated illegal mining in the riverbed upstream of the Ghaggar has put at least five bridges in danger. The gushing water has eroded the foundation of bridges at Mahru, Pur Mandi and Handyana villages and washed away a major portion of the bridge at Sirkapdra village in the Patiala district.


The development has put the officials of the irrigation department on their toes, who had to rush to the five spots with JCB machines and labourers to prevent further damage to the bridges.

The first signs of damage were spotted on Wednesday morning, when some villagers watched as the land on the left side of the bridge at Sirkapdra village caved in. Soon a major portion of the abutment was washed away along with 30-40 feet of the tall embankment. The river eroded the inside portion of the embankment and the road that connected nearly 25 villages with the district headquarters was also washed away.

On Saturday, many villagers at Sirkapdra engaged themselves in removing the mid-channel bars that had been created by the irrigation department to further strengthen the foundation of these bridges. The villagers alleged that due to the mid channel bars, floating weed got stuck under the bridge during the rainy season and pushed the gushing waters towards the left embankment.

The bridge was built by the villagers in 1995, who pooled in the money. The then village sarpanch Bhola Singh made a huge contribution for the construction of the bridge, the villagers said.

Damage was also spotted under the bridges at Mahru, Pur Mandi and the two bridges at Handyana village. Superintendent engineer (SE) of the irrigation department Davinder Singh, who along with other senior officials of the department was present to oversee the repair work being undertaken at Pur Mandi bridge, said recently the department had laid mid-channel bars under these five bridges. He said the idea was to strengthen the bridge foundations and to create check dams to increase the seepage of water to improve the groundwater table in the area.

However, the unabated mining on the upstream of the river, especially in the Ghanour segment, meant that more water came into the catchment area due to heavy rain and led to the massive erosion of the riverbed and also weakened the foundation of these bridges.

It has been observed that the river is now flowing at least 25 feet deeper than it used to flow till a few years ago. There have been reports that the mining mafia has been active in the area and has been digging up the riverbed.

According to the SE, the department has already written to the state government seeking that the area from Bhankarpur village up to Chatbir near Banur should be declared as no-mining zone as it can cause large-scale ecological damage to the river

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