Frightened by change

Frightened by change The Punjab government's proposal to increase the height of the 531-metre Thein dam on the Ravi river by 9 m has created considerable consternation in the Jammu and Kashmir township of Basoli. Residents of the town, which lies at the border of the 2 states near the submergence zone of the dam, fear the height increase would lead to the gradual submergence of the township.

Ravinder Sharma, a local advocate, voiced the apprehension of the town dwellers when he said that the elevated Thein dam reservoir would affect the weak rock and mud formations on which the town was based, steadily leading to submergence. The district's deputy commissioner K B Agarwal has, nevertheless, attempted to allay fears by saying that the Jammu and Kashmir government will not agree to the height increase, despite the Punjab government's offer to pay for a new town and bear the burden of compensation.

According to Basoli tehsildar Balwant Rai, 18 villages would be affected if the water level rose above 531 m. Rai also said that a compensation of Rs 85 crore for land acquired is already due from the Punjab government, of which only about Rs 15 crore had been released so far.

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