With the start of paddy transplantation from Thursday, the power demand in the state increased by 1900 mw on day one due to supply of eight hours of uninterrupted power supply to run tubewells. Further, experts said that advancing of paddy sowing date by one week would lead to sowing of at least 25-30 per cent paddy in the first week which would in turn significantly push up ground water extraction.
Experts said a later date was advisable as it is close to the date of onset of monsoon in the state that is between end June to first week of July. This would have decreased pressure on ground water resources.
“During peak summer time, sowing of paddy means more ground water usage as large amount of water gets evaporated but the crop needs 5-6 inches of standing water for 15 days,” said a senior officer in the Agriculture department, adding that every second day the fields have to be irrigated again.
Punjab has over 14 lakh tubewells which are run simultaneously on most of the days of paddy sowing period, which lasts for 20 to 25 days, and they extract 4.80 lakh million litre water in a day.
“Even after sowing day, the tubewells are run for next 15 days to keep the water in field for around two weeks,” said Director Punjab Agriculture Department Dr Sutantra Airy.
In Punjab every year, over 30 lakh hectares is dedicated under rice crop, including around 25 lakh hectares under paddy. This year, the Agriculture Department has decided to bring paddy area down to around 23 lakh hectares.
“Growing paddy on 23 lakh hectares requires 327 billion litre water for the four months crop cycle,” said an Agriculture expert from Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, adding that in the first month of the crop needs around 40 per cent of the total water consumption.
“By delaying the date we wanted to decrease this pressure on the ground water,” said Airy.
He also said that PAU has invented short-duration paddy varieties like PR-126, PR 127 varieties which can be sown after the onset of the monsoon.
On the first day of sowing, maximum demand for power was seen with 11,141 mw, an increase of more than 1900 mw from Wednesday’s demand when the demand was 9234 mw.
Last year on Day 1 of paddy sowing season on June 20, the power demands was 1363 mw because of delay in sowing rain showers a couple of day before June 20.
Punjab State Power Corporation (PSPCL) sources said that to maintain 8 hour power supply to tubewells, state was overdrawing 224 mw from the grid.
Sources said that with the start of paddy season, state sector thermal plants at Lehra Mohabatt and Ropar had started generation to meet the power requirements during paddy season.
The maximum demand this year is expected to touch 14000 mw and PSPCL is likely to meet the challenge, said sources, adding that last year maximum demand during this season was 12638 mw.