Flood water turns poisonous in Punjab village

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Muhammad Tariq lost his cow few days after feeding his cow from flood-swamped fields of Noor Shah Village in Jhang District. “I always fed her green fodder from our village. She was quiet healthy until water from the nearby Chenab River entered our farms last month,” said 46 year old farmer who used to look after a garden of guavas.

“The fruit was ripe and I was expecting to earn 1,80,000 rupees (US$ 1120.96). The monsoon rains spoiled all the fruit. I could only earn 6000 rupees from the left over yield.” Unable to purchase fresh fodder from the market, Tariq fetched the fodder from farms submerged in stinking deluge. His cow died a few days before Eid al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice observed from Aug 12 to 14 this year.

Now the locals purchases fodder for the rest of his livestock from Jhang city, about 10 kilometers from Noor Shah Village. They blame district government for releasing sewerage water from the city towards the nearby-flooded villages and poisoning their land.

“The fodder costs 200 rupees per 80 kilograms. We used to get it for free from the farms of our own acquaintances,” said father of two. “I couldn’t conduct the religious obligation and suffered a great loss. All the crops of our village including rice and ladyfinger have died. My father only taught me farming as a way of livelihood. I don’t know how to survive.”

Travelling to Jhang city is another challenge. The locals of Noor Shah Village and adjoining areas have to wade through knee-deep water to reach the nearby road. Most of the families returned home a few days after the disaster.

Meanwhile the National Disaster Management Authority—NDMA has given flood warning in various parts of the country after the new spell of heavy rainfall. Heavy rainfalls have been forecasted in the upper areas of Jhelum, Ravi and Chenab rivers which could cause a mid-level flood.

Tariq has developed rashes and abscesses on his legs as he balances his bicycle through mudded waters. The staff from Caritas Pakistan Faisalabad CPF and National Secretariat visited his village on August 15 during flood assessment.

“It was hard to breath; the river water has mixed with human waste. We could not visit the affected families as the village is cut off from the population, They desperately need fodder, medicines and ration” said Mr. Aneel Mushtaq Executive Secretary CPF.