With the elusive monsoon raising concerns for the agriculture sector, the Punjab government on Sunday sought an interim relief package of Rs 800 crore from the central government.
The state government also demanded 1,000 MW additional power allocation from the central pool in lieu of the extra money being spent by it on purchase of power for the agriculture sector, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said in Chandigarh Sunday in a statement.
He said that the deficient and erratic monsoon had put financial burden on Punjab and its farmers for the irrigation of the paddy crop.
Punjab alone contributes over 70% of the total foodgrain (wheat and rice) to the national kitty despite having just 1.55% of the country's total geographical area.
Badal said that the state government approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and union power minister Sushilkumar Shinde to immediately come to the aid of Punjab farmers.
He said that the 70% deficient rains in the month of June and July was a cause of concern for the Punjab government as farmers of Punjab were contributing more than 50% paddy to the central pool and any failure of crop in the state could have a bearing on the nation's food security.
Badal said that state power agencies were being forced to purchase power from different sources at exorbitant rates to feed the agriculture sector during the paddy season. Punjab Powercom purchased power of Rs 6,556 crore in recent weeks.
He added that Punjab farmers were spending crores of rupees on diesel to run generator-driven tubewells.
Punjab has an area of 29 lakh hectares area under paddy cultivation this season.