Wednesday, January 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Prolonged foggy weather bad for crops
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 4 — As people shivered facing chilly winds in the plains and the hills, farmers prayed for rains.

While cold at this time of the year is good for the wheat crop, dry weather is bad. One, the farmers have to increase watering, and second in the dry belts of Punjab and Haryana, it leads to pest attack. The situation is particularly bad in Bhiwani, Mahendragarh, Rewari, Gurgaon in Haryana and in some parts of Bathinda, Mansa, Ferozepore, Hoshiarpur, and Gurdaspur in Punjab.

It has not rained for the past three months.

Prolonged foggy conditions are bad as the photo synthesis system does not work to the optimum to help the crops gain good health. In Himachal Pradesh, reports of damage to the standing crops have made the agriculture experts sit up.

TNS reporters spoke to experts from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal to understand the situation. Here are the reports.

The fall in temperature is a welcome development for the rabi crops, especially wheat. Agriculture experts said here today that in the past weeks, the temperature was above normal which was considered a bit harmful for the crop as it gave a filip to the vegetative growth.

However, the experts said the drop in temperature in the past two days would prove beneficial. Asked about the prevailing dry spell, the farm experts said there would not be much adverse affect of it on the wheat crop. In Punjab, nearly 99 per cent area covered under the wheat crop is fed by canal water and only in the Kandi belt and in certain other parts of the state rabi crops are rain-fed.

Official sources in the Punjab Agriculture department said nearly 33.20 lakh hectares had already been covered under the wheat crop. Of this only 60,000 hectares are dependent on rain water and the rest is fed by canal water.

Officials are expecting less area under the oil seeds, including sunflower and toria this year. As farmers did not get a good price for sunflower last year, they are not inclined to raise the area under the sunflower crop. In fact farmers would rather prefer to divert areas to wheat crop by less sunflower sowing.

The officials said there should not be a long spell of foggy weather as such a condition if it prevailed for a week or more would affect the health of crops, especially wheat. There could also an increased attack of pests. Mostly these days mustard crop is affected by the attack of jassid which at this stage is not much visible. However, cloudy weather conditions could aggravate the situation. The area under barely crop in Punjab is insignificant.

The experts say if the temperature were to shoot up all of a sudden after the foggy conditions, it would surely affect the yield of wheat. They are praying for conducive weather conditions for wheat. Last year nearly 33.38 lakh hectares were under the wheat crop and this figure is expected to go up this year due to the diversion of area from oilseeds to the wheat crop. There is no adverse effect on early sown vegetables.

Haryana will convene a meeting of the Weather Watch Group to assess the impact of the current foggy conditions in the region coupled with the prolonged dry spell next week.

The group is a high-powered body headed by the Commissioner, Agriculture, Mr Nasim Ahmed.It has representatives of all agencies related to agriculture like the HVPN and the Irrigation department.

Mr Nasim Ahmed says the crops have not been affected by the current weather so far. The foggy conditions, he says, would have acted like a fertiliser if these had been preceded by rain.

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The state is likely to achieve the target of 76 lakh tonnes of wheat this year. However, the dry spell has badly hit the gram crop, which could be sown hardly in 25 per cent of the targeted area of 4.5 lakh hectares. Even the growth is stunted.

The growth of vegetables is satisfactory. The potato crop is so far free from all diseases. The early sown tomato crop has shown good growth. Similarly, the peas crop is satisfactory, says Mr Nasim Ahmed, who is considered an authority on agriculture in Haryana bureaucracy.

SHIMLA: If you want to escape dense fog and cold wave in the plains, come to Shimla where the sun is shining brightly.

Contrary to normal snow and chilly weather conditions here, it is warm and sunny.

Residents of the town sit in the open, basking in the sun at the Ridge and the Scandal Point everyday. Not many have left the town for the plains this winter, though the educational institutions have been closed.

The residents of the town are enjoying bright sunshine for the second successive year these days. However, the tourists are disappointed in the absence of snow-clad hills.

Lack of snow and rain is worrying the farmers and apple growers, who fear that their crops would get destroyed if there was no snow within day.

Reports of damage of the rabi crop particularly in Hamirpur, Kangra, Chamba, Kulu, Bilaspur and Mandi districts have been received. These areas were facing drought because of no rain.

Dr M.P. Narang, Director (Research) in Palampur Agriculture University, said when contacted on the telephone that the rabi crops might face 60 per cent damage in case the dry spell continued till mid-January. The rabi crop had already suffered a damage of nearly 40 per cent as winter rains have, by and large, failed. Crops in the rain-fed areas were the worst-hit.

He said even cabbage, mustard and linseed crops had been affected badly. The late-sown crops had not emerged yet and farmers had not sown anything in the rain-fed areas.

Mr T.D. Thakur, Joint Director of Agriculture, said of the nearly six lakh hectares of agricultural land in the state, only 20 per cent was having irrigation facilities. The rest were dependent on rain. In several areas of the Hamirpur, Mandi, Kulu and Kangra districts, plants have not germinated because of draught. He feared that the loss of crop might touch 80 per cent in case there was no rain in the next 10 to 15 days.


No respite from fog, cold wave
Tribune News Service and UNI

CHANDIGARH, Jan 4 — With fog having tightened its grip over the north-western region, the minimum temperatures continued to be below normal while Amritsar was the coldest place in the plains as the city recorded a low of 2C this morning.

In the mountains, Srinagar was the coldest at 6.1C while Bhuntar, near Kulu also reeled under sub-zero temperature at 0.6C.

In the plains, Hisar was cold at 3.6C, Rohtak recorded 5.6C. In Ambala and Patiala the minimum temperature rose a little. The local meteorological office said the situation would continue for the next two to three days. It also predicted that frost could occur in parts of southern Haryana and western areas of Punjab. There was no possibility of rain in the coming few days.

Normal life remained disrupted in most of north-west India for the third successive day today with dense fog and severe cold wave conditions sending road, rail and air services haywire.

Weathermen here holding out no respite from the on-going weather vagaries forecast status quo over the next three days.

Northern Railway cancelled some important trains while many others were running hours behind schedule because of poor or no visibility caused by dense fog.

Shatabdi Express trains, Shan-e-Punjab, Himalayan Queen, Howrah-Kalka Mail on the Delhi-Chandigarh-Kalka and Delhi-Amritsar sections ran one-and-half-hour to four hours behind schedule.

A report from Phagwara said Howrah, Sealdah, Barauni, Moori, Haridwar, Jhelum and Jansewa Express, Howrah Mail and Frontier Mail were running four to nine hours behind schedule. The 333 Up and 334 Down Amritsar-Ambala train, 4605 Up and 4606 Dn Jammu Tawi-Ferozepur 4-Jmp and 5-Jmp Jalandhar-Pathankot passenger trains were cancelled.

All national and international flights were also hampered and vehicular traffic moved at a snails pace with head-lights on even after the mid-day.

Notwithstanding brief showers at isolated places in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in the first week of October last, the whole of north-west region has been in the grip of dry weather condition, the longest in the past decade. The weathermen attributed the unabated dry weather conditions to the absence of westerly disturbances over Afghanistan, Jammu and Kashmir and areas adjoining Pakistan.

The whole of northern-most Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir and adjoining tribal belt in Himachal Pradesh including Lahaul-Spiti, continued to shiver under 13 to 15 degrees sub-zero temperatures.

In Srinagar the minimum this morning dipped to 6.1C, four degrees below normal, while Jammu for the first time in past one week recorded low at 7.7C, one degree below normal today.

Shimla continued to be warmer with the low of 4.9C, three degrees above normal, while Bhuntar recorded 0.6C as the minimum today. Solan, midway through Kalka-Shimla highway, for the first time experienced severe cold weather as mercury this morning plummeted to 1.5C. Sundernagar in Himachal Pradesh was the other colder place reporting the low of one Celsius.

Hisar in Haryana was colder with the low of 3.6C followed by Ambala 4.6C.

Amritsar with the low of two Celsius continued to be the coldest place in Punjab followed by Patiala at 3.2C this morning.

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