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Move afoot to regulate paddy transplantation
Ordinance to check declining water likely
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The Punjab Agriculture Department is keen to regulate the transplantation of paddy in the state to check the rapidly declining water table.

Informed sources said today that the department was of the view that no farmer should be allowed to transplant paddy in the state before June 10, a date fixed by the department in consultation with the Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana. Because of heavy extraction of ground water to meet the requirment of paddy crop, vast areas in Punjab has become what is technically called dark zone.

Asked in this connection, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary, who deals with the Agriculture Department, said agriculture experts and others had consulted various farmer organisations in this regard recently.

After consulting them, the Punjab Farmers Commission headed by Dr G.S. Kalkat and the commission's Secretary, Mr K.S. Pannu, had prepared a draft of the Punjab Preservation of Sub Soil Water Bill, 2006. The objective of the Bill was to regulate the transplantation of paddy to ensure judicious and rational use of water.

The Bill was to be moved in the last session of the Punjab Assembly. However, it failed to clear certain bureaucratic hurdles. The apprehension in the administrative circles was that it was an election year and regulating the transplantation of paddy may not be liked by farmers and they may become angry with the government.

Mr Randhawa said he had talked to a cross-section of farmers and political leaders. They were ready for framing a law to regulate the transplantation of paddy in the state. He said he would request all political parties to be united on this issue to save Punjab from becoming a desert.

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