M A I N   N E W S

Another 100 MW for Punjab, Haryana
Centre also to bear 50 pc subsidy on diesel to farmers
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

News Delhi, July 24
The Union government today announced an additional 100 MW power from the central pool to Punjab and Haryana for timely completion of paddy transplantation and to protect the already sown crops. The Centre also announced to bear 50 per cent of subsidy on diesel offered to farmers by states. And as a contingent measure to deal with deficient rainfall, it said all exports of non-Basmati rice and wheat had been stopped.

A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet was briefed on monsoon situation and kharif sowing, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told the Rajya Sabha today that weak and erratic monsoon in several parts of the country had led to late sowing of important kharif crops, including paddy and bajra, which may adversely affect the yield. However, allaying fears of shortage of food grains, he said stock position was comfortable and termed the spiralling prices of pulses a temporary phenomenon.

On July 23, there was 19 per cent deficiency of rainfall in the country on the whole -- North-West 38 per cent and North-East 43 per cent, respectively.

Assuring that contingency plans were being operationalised in areas where the dry spell was getting prolonged, the Minister said Punjab and Haryana would be allocated additional 100 MW from the central pool.

Soon after the discussion in the House, SAD MP Naresh Gujral and Independent MP from Haryana Tarlochan Singh met Pawar to seek clarification on whether this 100 MW power announced for the two states was in addition to power already being provided to Punjab and Haryana from the central pool.

Speaking to the Tribune, Gujral said: “Pawar told us that the 100 MW announced now was in addition to the 100 MW already being provided to Punjab and Haryana, hence taking the total contribution to these states to 200 MW each.”

The Agriculture Minister said while the situation had improved in most parts, the North-West, comprising Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and some parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar continued to receive insufficient rainfall.

While Manipur had declared drought in all districts of the state, and Assam and Jharkhand in 14 and four districts, respectively, none of the other states had submitted any memorandum for assistance under the NCCF, he said

Yesterday, he received a proposal from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asking the Centre to bear 50 per cent of the concession being given by the state government on diesel. Pawar announced that the Centre would take minimum 50 per cent responsibility, which Bihar had taken. “If other states come forward, the same level of support will be available to them as well.”

He said area under paddy cultivation may be adversely hit, which could be compensated to some extent by cultivating oilseeds, pulses and some coarse cereals in additional areas. As part of the contingency plan, states had been allowed to procure and position the additional quantities of seeds under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

Meanwhile, IMD’s long range forecast update for the 2009 south-west monsoon season (June to September) indicates that the average rainfall is likely to be below normal. Kharif area coverage is almost normal in case of cotton, jowar, maize, pulses and oilseeds but less area coverage has been reported in rice and bajra.

As on July 16, the area covered under rice was 114.63 lakh hectares, compared to last year’s 145.21 lakh hectares in the corresponding period.



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