SAHIWAL: Twenty-seven landowner families of Dad Balooch Village have become landless tenants because of high flood and continuous erosion by the Ravi during the past two weeks.

It is learnt that more than 50 acre land of these families has been washed away in recent floods. These families demand alternative agriculture land for their livelihood.

As many as 144 members of these families are temporarily residing in makeshift tents established on eastern side of the river or in the flood relief camp set up by the district government at Government High School, Karam Balooch.

District Coordination Officer Dr Sajid Mamhood has assured the affected families that alternative land will be arranged and allocated on a permanent basis.

Mansab Ali Balooch is head of a joint Balooch family having 30 members. One month back his family was the owner of six acre agriculture land, a tubewell, an animal farmhouse and an outhouse but now he is sitting in another landowner’s area as a landless person. His brothers and sons have already started striking deals with other landowners to take their land on contract and work as tenants on one-eighth share.

27 families have lost all to elemental fury

Talking to Dawn, Mansab says his agriculture land and that of his fellow villagers have been under constant threat of land erosion for the last 40 years. “But during the last two weeks, high flood has swept his entire area including his house and farmhouse.”

Mansab’s son Akram Balooch says last year their family’s two acres had been eaten away by the Ravi and this year flood has eroded their house including six acre agriculture land.

“Now we are living in makeshift tents in the open and we have become landless,” he says.

Balooch says: “Although we are receiving food, clothes, medicine, tents and fresh water from the district government in camps but the question is who will allocate alternative land to us.

“We need alternative land for livelihood of 30 family members. We now even have no place to reside.”

Gul Muhammad, another resident of Dad Balooch, says he has four brothers and their four acre collective land has been eroded. Their houses, cattle (Pens) and outhouse have been lost to the Ravi.

He says both the provincial and district governments have no policy to accommodate the villagers whose land has been hit by elemental fury.

Another resident Ghulam Muhammad says a lumberdar had warned him about flood but he didn’t have enough time to collect his belongings.

Assistant Commissioner Muhammad Shafiq says the current flood has widened Ravi’s width to 400 feet at Dad Balooch.

“According to our data more than 25 acre agriculture land of Dad Balooch has been washed away during the last two weeks. The problem is the river has changed its course and is now threatening the whole village (Dad Balooch) and surrounding areas like Shahmand Balooch and Karam Balooch,” he says. Mr Shafiq says around 2,500 acre land has come under floodwater in Sahiwal and Okara districts.

According to Tehsildar Rana Muhammad Yousaf, 146 family members are residing in and around flood relief camp.

Dawn has learnt that DCO Dr. Sajid Mahmood has visited Dad Balooch and assured heads of 27 families of allocating alternative land.

“The district government has already marked 2-3 villages including Rati Tibi to accommodate the families with some land allotment,” AC Shafiq says.

As per sources, local patwari has started gathering data of the erosion-hit land. But there are no instructions from the provincial government as to how land will be allocated to the families, they say.

Sakhawat Ali of Dad Balooch, who contested MPA election in 2013, has demanded that the Punjab government must develop an embankment or dyke at Dad Balooch otherwise this village will disappear like Mulanza Sharif and Miyama Thatta in coming three to four years.