Paddy sowing to start tomorrow, over 32 L hecatres to be covered : The Tribune India

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Paddy sowing to start tomorrow, over 32 L hecatres to be covered

Paddy sowing to start tomorrow, over 32 L hecatres to be covered

Workers sow paddy at a field in Patiala. File photo



Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Patiala, June 9

Just after the Lok Sabha election in which the ruling AAP won three seats, the Punjab Government faces a litmus test preparing for the paddy season, one of the biggest in terms of area under paddy cultivation that officially starts on Tuesday. With the farmers already agitating on various issues, the state government has already announced free uninterrupted eight-hour power supply to the farmers.

Despite years of discussions to phase out paddy in Punjab, owing to its impact on groundwater, the paddy crop area is likely to dominate agriculture in the state, with the official paddy season starting from June 11. As per recent reports compiled by the Central Government, Punjab is one of the states in the country with highest groundwater extraction.

Increase in basmati expected

We expect the paddy sown area to be over 32 lakh hectares, with an increase in basmati sown area this year. Last year, the area under basmati jumped by 20 per cent and it is likely to increase. — Jaswant Singh, director, Punjab Agriculture Department

As per Punjab Agriculture Department, the state witnessed a staggering 31.93 lakh hectares under rice cultivation, including 5.87 lakh hectares of basmati, in 2023 and likely to increase further making it the highest ever in recorded history of the state. “We expect the paddy sown area to be over 32 lakh hectares, with an increase in basmati sown area this year. Last year the area under basmati jumped by 20 per cent and it is likely to increase,” said Director (Agriculture), Punjab, Jaswant Singh.

“From June 11, the canal water will be supplied to farmers uninterruptedly in districts of Sri Muktsar Sahib, Faridkot, Mansa, Bathinda, Fazilka, Ferozepur and areas beyond the fence at International Border,” he added. In the tubewell irrigated areas of Moga, Sangrur, Malerkotla, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, SAS Nagar, Rupnagar, Ludhiana, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Pathankot, the water will be supplied from June 15.

Meanwhile, farmers say that the expert labourers for paddy are yet to arrive back, though they are confirming that the majority will be back by June 20, when the paddy sowing season is at its peak. “Following the recent elections, expert labourers are staying back in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and I have made advance booking to ensure that I do not face any labour pangs, like I did last year when the floods created havoc,” says Jagdish Garcha, who owns 36 acres.

Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) says it has geared up to meet the power demand due to the paddy sector increase and is prepared to meet 16,500 MW when over 14.5 lakh tubewells pump out underground water in paddy fields.

A senior PSPCL official said arrangements had been made to meet the demand with “enhanced power generation in the state”, especially after the acquisition of the 540 MW Goindwal Sahib thermal plant. “The enhancement of the transmission capacity from 9,000 MW to 10,000 MW, besides additional power banking arrangements (3,000 MW) and solar power are likely to help the PSPCL meet the peak demand,” he said, adding that the demand is likely to rise on or after June 17.

The early transplanting of paddy has always received criticism from agriculture experts which has always urged successive governments to align the paddy planting with the onset of monsoon in the first week of July and till that happens, the government should shift the paddy transplanting schedule to June 20 onwards.

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