M A I N   N E W S

Input costs up, Punjab wants Rs 800-cr interim relief, 1000 MW more power
Jangveer Singh/TNS

Chandigarh, July 22
With a deficient monsoon jacking up input costs, farmers in Punjab are staring at a crisis. In view of the use of diesel for irrigation, input costs are likely to go up to Rs 8,000 an acre, prompting the state government to urge the Centre to grant a Rs 800-crore interim package plus 1000 mega watt additional power allocation.

Monsoon plays truant

  • Against an eight-hour regular power supply, farmers in Punjab get around six hours supply
  • With rain remaining deficient, they have no option but to pump out water from tubewells using diesel. A farmer needs around 10 litres of diesel, worth about `400, to irrigate one acre
  • This way, a farmer might end up spending Rs 8,000 per acre if the monsoon continues to remain deficient

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal stated today that the state government had approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to help Punjab farmers so that they are able to fulfil their commitment to make the country secure on the food security front.

A deficient monsoon is stretching power availability in the state. Against a slated eight-hour regular power supply, farmers are getting around six hours of power to run tubewell motors. With rain remaining deficient, they are forced to run tubewells on diesel.

According to rough calculations, a farmer needs around 10 litres of diesel worth Rs 400 to irrigate one acre of paddy crop. Paddy requires at least 20 applications in one season. Going by these estimates, a farmer might end up spending Rs 8,000 per acre if the monsoon remains deficient.

Sukhbir said in view of the 70 per cent deficit in rainfall in June and July, the state electricity utility was making efforts to procure power. It was even going for spot purchase of power at exorbitant rates.

He said the electricity utility had already purchased power worth Rs 6,556 crore. Farmers were simultaneously bearing an additional input cost as they were forced to use diesel to ensure optimum irrigation. In view of this, the Centre should sanction an immediate interim relief worth Rs 800 crore to the state.

Sukhbir also urged the Union Power Ministry to “wake up to the crisis” and sanction additional power from the Central pool to Punjab. The state was committed to nurse 29 lakh hectares of paddy.

When contacted, state agriculture adviser Dr B S Sidhu said during a recent video conference with the union agriculture secretary, he had demanded that Punjab be allowed to overdraw from the Central grid in view of the grim power situation in the state.

Sources said Punjab was already drawing the available transmission capacity of 5400 Megawatt and it was up to the Energy Department to entertain demand for a further increase. 





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