Chandigarh: With a rain deficit of 66 per cent, less water from the Bhakra Nangal dam and even lesser electricity, farmers in Punjab are a worried lot. The state government is reeling under a severe debt crisis and has appealed to the Centre for drought relief.
Gurpreet Singh owns a bare three acres of land in Fatehgarh Sahib district of Punjab, but his area has been hit the hardest by the lack of rain. The failed monsoon has had a cascading effect on farmers like him, who don't have the resources to pump up water, or use diesel generators to irrigate fields. So Gurpreet has decided to cut his losses and along with it, some of his standing paddy crop.
If the rainfall deficit in Punjab is 66 per cent, in neighbouring Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, the rains are 70 per cent and 48 per cent below normal. As a result, the Bhakra Beas dam has cut output of water, affecting supply and power generation.
SL Aggarwal, Chairman of the Bhakra Beas Management Board, said, "Our dam levels have gone down. We have cut 10 per cent water supply to member states."
With the rainfall deficit, farmers have had to pay extra to deepen tube wells. This has in turn lowered the water table in the state. And there's also been a rise in diesel generation.
Since input costs are higher than potential profits, several farmers have decided not to sow crops at all.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal says he has asked the Centre for help. "It's nature's wrath that the rain has been much less. I have met Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and I have told him that farming is a national issue and since Punjab feeds the country, we have asked for Rs 1000 crore. In a big way, the Centre should help these states," he said.
Haryana has received 53.8 mm rains till now against a normal of 177.5 mm.
Monsoon rainfall deficiency in Haryana:
86 per cent in Mewat.
84 per cent in Karnal.
84 per cent in Kurukshetra.
83 per cent in Jhajjar.
Punjab has received 66.4 mm of rains till date against a normal of 193.3 mm.
Monsoon rainfall deficiency in Punjab:
93 per cent in Ferozepur
92 per cent in Moga
92 per cent in Tarn Taran
92 per cent Fatehgarh Sahib