July 1, 2021 5:45:14 am
A farmer for the last 15 years, Amrik Singh (40) says that it is for the first time since he began farming that he has been forced to use generator for over four hours daily to run his tubewells to water paddy fields.
The 40-year-old, who ploughs 20 paddy fields including 10 on rent, says that his village, Sansarpur in district Jalandhar, is only getting 5 hours power supply against 8 hours promised by PSPCL. And there are days when there is no power throughout the day due to faults.
“I am getting power supply on our tubewells in the village from 5 pm to 10 pm which is not sufficient to keep the crop submerged in 2-3 inches water which is the requirement of the crop, I am running tubewell on generator set and spending around Rs 2,200 to Rs 2,500 daily on diesel itself and repair charges are extra,” said Amrik, who is also panchayat member. He has already spent around Rs 15,000 in a week to run his tubewell on a generator.
In Jalandhar’s Samrai village, farmer Amandeep Singh Samra (32) is incurring much more cost for running at least three generators on three tubewells daily to save his paddy crop on 30 acres, including 20 on rent, and spending Rs 6,500 to Rs 7,500 daily depending on supply of power.
“I have been farming for the past 10 years and this is the first time that I need to run the tubewell on a generator to save my crop. I really feel trapped by planting paddy this time but now there is no other way out but to bear this huge input cost,” he said, adding that he has been running tubewell on diesel for the past over two weeks and had already spent close to Rs one lakh on the diesel only in over two weeks and if it will continue like this the cost would run in several lakhs.
Earlier, running of tubewell on generator sets used to happen very rarely in case of any emergency but now it is a routine affair, he said.
Farmer Kirpal Singh (45) of village Deon in Bathinda said that they are two brothers having 15 acres of land out of which paddy is sown on 9 acres of land and 6 acres is dedicated under cotton crop.
“I hired a gen-set for a day but after seeing huge expenditure I returned it and now I depend on whatever water we are getting in 5 hours of power supply. This inadequate water will not help in growing a healthy crop. If the power situation does not improve, I will no choice but to uproot my crop,” he said.
Satnam Singh, who has 10 acres, is lifting water with the help of a feed pump in Bathinda.
“A good generator costs is around Rs 1 lakh while feeder pump is available at Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 as it also runs on diesel and consumes nearly 25 litre diesel (costing over Rs 2,200 daily) in a day and medium farmers who cannot afford generators are purchasing feeder pumps,” he said, adding that if the power situation continues like this then “farmers will either need to uproot the crop or health of the crop would be poor”.
This is the story of the farmers throughout Punjab where paddy sowing is going on and already around 16-17 lakh hectares area has come under rice sowing out of nearly 3 million hectares.
The government had promised 8-hour uninterrupted power supply to the tubewells for the entire paddy season starting from June 10 to October month but the supply is poor from the day one.
Paddy crop cannot survive without water after transplanting of prepared nurseries is done on fields that are “puddled” or tilled in standing water using tractor-drawn disc harrows. For the first three weeks or so after transplanting, the plants have to be irrigated almost daily (if there are no rains) to ensure a water depth of 4-5 cm. Even for the next 4-5 weeks, when the crop is in tillering (stem development) stage, farmers continue to irrigate every 2-3 days.
Water prevents the growth of weeds by denying them oxygen in the submerged stage.
“When farmers are running feeder pumps and generators for hours daily to save the paddy crop this year one can calculate the how much extra cost of the paddy production is being borne by the farmers and government must redress this issue as soon as possible to save both farmers’ crop and farmers themselves,” said BKU (Ugrahan) leader Jagsir Singh, adding that this financial burden will lead to more farmers suicides.
“Either government supplies the promised 8-hour power supply to the farmers or increase the MSP because of the huge input cost this year to save farmers from financial distress,” said Amarjot Singh Jandiala, district youth president of BKU (Rajewal), which on July 2 plans to block the national highway in Jalandhar against poor power supply.
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