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Rain shortfall: Punjab, Haryana seek more electricity, relief package
Centre reviews sowing ops in 6 states
Pins hopes on August rain
Vibha Sharma/TNS

New Delhi, July 21
The Centre today reviewed the progress of monsoon and sowing of kharif crops in six major states, including Punjab and Haryana, which are facing the brunt of an extremely erratic monsoon.

The Centre is confident of a good paddy output in Punjab and Haryana despite the severe rainfall deficit given the good irrigation network in the two states, but expressed concern over the situation in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. It said August rains were crucial to make up shortfall in large parts of land still unsown in the four states.

“There is still time for sowing and the shortfall can be made up if rains are good in the next month. There is sufficient supply of seeds in these states for late sowing,” Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna said after meeting representatives of the six states.

Paddy sowing is complete in Punjab while it is almost 70% over in Haryana. Poor rains are likely to result in a loss of about 1.5 lakh hectares under bajra in southern parts in southern Haryana. “It all depends upon how the monsoon pans out from here,” Bahuguna said.

However, beating the errant monsoon with a system dependent on groundwater irrigation system fuelled by diesel and power has taken a toll on Punjab and Haryana. Estimated expenditure on crop sowing has gone up on account of higher spending on diesel for irrigation. To top it all, officials say the additional 300 MW allocated to them is not sufficient to keep up with increased dependence on irrigation this kharif season.

Keeping in mind increased costs of diesel and shortage of power, the two states have demanded an additional 1,000 MW power from the Central pool to enable farmers to complete sowing and prepare it for maturity.

They also demanded Rs 1,210 crore additional relief package (Punjab Rs 810 crore and Haryana Rs 400 crore) on account of higher usage of diesel.

Bahuguna, however, told The Tribune that Punjab and Haryana would have to come back with specifics to back their demands for additional power and more funds.

Arguing the state’s case for additional power, Punjab Agriculture Director MS Sandhu said the state was completely dependent on irrigation -- 73 per cent on tubewells and 27 per cent on canal water.

“Farmers have already incurred an additional burden of Rs 800 crore because of increased spending on diesel and this will only go up if the monsoon does not revive. We submitted our calculations based on cost incurred by farmers in drought year 2009,” he said.

In 2010, the Centre had given Rs 800 crore to Punjab and Rs 400 crore to Haryana as drought relief package for kharif season 2009, which was declared a drought year.

Punjab is eyeing 27.8 lakh hectares under paddy and Sandhu said he was confident that the area under rice cultivation would go beyond 28 lakh hectares with the Centre’s cooperation.

Rains are deficient in Punjab and Haryana by 69 per cent and the states are unlikely to witness widespread rains in the remaining season.

Rainfall deficiency down to 22%

Overall, rainfall deficiency has reduced to 22 per cent from 30 per cent in June. “Rains in July have not been that bad but rains in August are crucial to make up shortfall in area in these states,” Bahuguna said

There is a shortfall of 10 lakh hectare area under kharif crops in Karnataka but Bahuguna expects that 8 lakh hectare could be made up if monsoon recovers. 





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