Citing drought,Punjab seeks Rs 2380 cr from Centre

While saying that the state was facing alarming conditions of drought with the rain deficit being 65 per cent,the Punjab government has demanded a special central assistance of Rs 2,380 crore from the Centre.

Written by Harpreet Bajwa | Chandigarh | Published: July 31, 2012 3:35:03 am

While saying that the state was facing alarming conditions of drought with the rain deficit being 65 per cent,the Punjab government has demanded a special central assistance of Rs 2,380 crore from the Centre.

According to sources,Financial Commissioner (Development) G S Sandhu has shot off a letter to Union Agriculture Secretary A Bahuguna demanding the special central grant so that farmers and the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) can be compensated for the losses.

The letter (a copy of which is with The Indian Express) stated: “Punjab is the leading rice producing state of the country and on account of monsoon failure (as per IMD,the rain deficit is more than 65 per cent as on July 25),the state is facing alarming conditions of drought. This has put extraordinary strain on the farmers as well as on the state government. It also poses serious challenge to the nation’s food security,as Punjab is one of the dominant contributors.” It added that although,the combined efforts of the farmers and the state government may result in maintaining a reasonable level of paddy production,but this will be at a great cost to both.

It further stated that considering the forecast of below average rainfall for the remaining months of kharif season,the farmers will have to incur an additional expenditure for sustain the paddy crop — cultivated in about 27.80 lakh hectares — and other kharif crops like cotton and maize by using diesel to run pump sets. “The total extra expenditure to be incurred on this account will be approximately Rs 550 crore,” the letter stated,adding that another Rs 300 crore is likely to be spent by farmers to replace mono block pump set-operated tubewells to submersible pump set-operated deep tubewells.

“Besides,PSPCL will incur an additional expenditure of Rs 1,530 crore by diverting power from other sectors as well as buying power at a higher price. Thus,additional cost on all these accounts will be Rs 2,380 crore,” the letter stated.

Meanwhile,the state Congress had also requested the Prime Minister to release an interim financial package of Rs 2,000 crore due to the failure of monsoon and severe shortage of electricity. In a letter to the PM,Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar said,“Given the distress level,I will request you to release a financial package of Rs 2,000 crore,equally divided among farmers and small industrialists of Punjab.”

With 65 per cent deficiency in rainfall,a drought alert has been sounded in the state,especially in the Kandi belt. Each farmer is spending an extra Rs 3,000 per hectare because of the failed monsoon,said a source.

Capt away,Cong unites to ‘rain’ salvos on Badal

With state Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh leaving for his two-week South African odyssey,the Opposition Congress spoke in many voices against the power crisis and proposed taxes.

Ridiculing Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for his Sunday’s statement that deficient rains were responsible for power crisis in the state,Gurdaspur MP Pratap Singh Bajwa said the CM’s explanation for the power shortage was a pathetic excuse. “We expected much better from a leader of Badal’s standing,who is 85,with an experience of over 60 years and have been the chief minister of Punjab four times in the past. The excuse of a senior member of his cabinet (Revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia) in blaming the previous Congress government is even more lame,as the gentleman should realise that his party has been in power for more than five years now and it is high time they showed some iota of performance,” he said.

In a press statement issued on Monday,Bajwa also questioned asked Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s “tall claims” through massive advertisements which had claimed that Punjab will become self-sufficient in power in the third year of the Akalis’ last term.

“The Badals’ over-obsession with pelf and power and the loaves and fishes of office to the total exclusion of all matters of governance has ensured that no new power generation project has gone on steam. There has been no monitoring of these projects or ensuring that the project managers and contractors stick to deadlines. Instead,the ruling party’s emphasis has been on ridiculing the Opposition and pouring scorn on them. The chief minister Parkash Singh Badal should cut out the rhetoric and get down to the job of rectifying this disastrous situation without any delay,” said Bajwa.

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