Wednesday, February 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Inclement weather causes worry among farmers
Wheat and mustard crops lodged at certain places
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Inclement weather for the past 48 hours has become a cause of worry for farmers as well as agriculture experts. No doubt, rain at this stage is good for various rabi crops, experts apprehend that the prevailing weather conditions often lead to hailstorms which can prove very harmful, especially to the wheat crop that is in the ear-formation stage.

Already the high velocity winds accompanied with a light to moderate rain in various parts of this region have damaged the mustard crop which is in full bloom. While most of the places in Punjab registered a rainfall between 0.5 to 5 mm, at Bhuntar in Himachal Pradesh it has been recorded at 20 mm, in Shimla around 12 mm and in Sundarnagar 10 mm.

In fact, informed sources said that the rain disrupted the election campaign at various places in Himachal Pradesh during the past 48 hours. Mrs Sonia Gandhi today cancelled her tour to the hill state and because of the bad weather, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's plane could not land at Shimla this morning and he was forced to land here and proceed to Shimla by car. Even the higher reaches of the hilly region had snow, according to official reports received here by the weatherman. The wet weather would continue for the next 24 hours, according to official sources.

The Punjab belt bordering Himachal also got a good rain, according to sources, though details were not available. Even areas such as Bathinda, Mansa, Gidderbaha and Fazilka, which remained almost dry during the earlier spells of rain, received a scanty rain today.

According to reports received here from the region, at certain places both wheat and mustard crops have been lodged by the high velocity winds that blew at a speed of 55 km per hour. Official sources said the squall that hit many parts of Punjab, Haryana and the other neighbouring states had shattered the flowers of the mustard crop, besides the lodging of the wheat crop at certain places. The prevailing inclement weather has not much adverse affect on the vegetable crops.

However, Dr Jag Shoran, principal scientist of the Wheat Research Institute, Karnal, when contacted, said that the rain was good at this stage for the rabi crops but the squall was a cause of worry as such a weather often resulted in hailstorm. "As the wheat crop is still away from the ripening stage, its lodging will not cause any significant damage as far as its yield is concerned. But it will be better if the weather clears at the earliest as bright sunny days are required for improving the process of photosynthesis in crops and healthy formation of grains in plants," said Dr Jag Shoran.

Dr R.K. Rampal, Director, Agriculture, said: "The area under the mustard and other oilseed crops had increased to 80,000 hectares from the last year's 50,000 and these crops have been looking very healthy. But we are feeling concerned about these crops because of the fast blowing winds which were accompanied with showers."



Rain, wind kill one, damage 250 houses
Tribune News Service

Jandwala, Meera Sangla (Fazilka), February 18
At least one person died, 15 were injured and more than 250 houses were damaged by heavy rain accompanied by high velocity wind hit this village here today afternoon. Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that 35 head of cattle also perished.

The Ferozepore district police was trying to reach this village when the last report came.

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