LAHORE - Floods have damaged crops at more than 15,000 acres in six districts of South Punjab, according to the initial estimates of the agriculture department.

The officials seeking anonymity said the breach in dyke near Jakhar Imam Shah (DG Khan) on July 23, even at low level flood in Indus River, contributed to the major losses to agriculture land, livestock, houses and other infrastructure. The embankment was built in 1973 to provide protection to Jampur and other areas.

They told this scribe the stagnant floodwater on some 230,000 acres and continuing downpour in southern belt had grown fears about more losses especially to cotton and mongi (pulse) crops in the area. Both the crops need less water and are widely cultivated in South Punjab due to water scarcity in the area on common days.

The affected agriculture land lies in districts of Muzaffargarh, Leyyah, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Multan.

It was feared the stagnant water could further cause 30 to 50 per cent losses to the crops of Mongi on around 50,000 acres and cotton on more than 100,000 acres. However, sugarcane and paddy crops are so far safe in the area.

The initial estimates do not include the damages to lives and property occurred due to the fresh breaches in Bikri Ahmed Khan dyke in Leyyah and Jatoi dyke in Kot Mitthan Rajanpur.

As per some reports, lower level flood in Indus River caused breaching to both the dykes on Monday rendered thousands of families homeless besides damaging their homes, crops and businesses in Sariaki belt.

It is estimated that more than 350,000 people have so far been affected after the breaches in three dykes. Floodwater accumulated in more than 700 villages and thousands of acres land in South Punjab.

The Punjab government has not released demanded funds for the flood protection measures leaving the embankments in the area weak and vulnerable to floods even at low level coupled with careless attitude of the officials of the irrigation department and district administration led to the main damages even at initial stages of floods.

An Agriculture department spokesperson said his department and the district administration concerned was calculating the losses on initial stages and would be able to give exact figures about damages after the end of Monsoon.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Committee on Flood Chairman Shuja Khanzada said the schools in flood-hit areas will open on August 15. However, the local administration would be authorised to take decision about extending the vacations in the light of the situation, he added.

362 schools have so far been affected in flood-affected areas, out of which more than 80 percent will be available for study up to August 15. The schools will be shifted to other places temporarily till the threat of flood is over, Khanzada said.