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HindustanTimes Mon,24 Nov 2014

Weak monsoon: crop sowing trails in Punjab, lesser water in Bhakra

PTI  Chandigarh, July 11, 2014
First Published: 18:41 IST(11/7/2014) | Last Updated: 18:46 IST(11/7/2014)

With slow progress of monsoon in the northern region, the ongoing sowing of major Kharif crops in Punjab has remained lower so far as compared to the same period of last year.

Bhakra and Pong reservoirs have registered lesser water level than what they had in corresponding period last year.

Besides, the power utility PSPCL has resorted to "heavy" load shedding across the state on all consumer categories in the wake of "poor monsoon" and less power generation, said an official.

With rain playing truant this year, Punjab has witnessed 51 per cent lesser rainfall as against normal rainfall activity so far this year.

The major impact of deficient rains this year in Punjab has been visible on Kharif crop sowing especially paddy, maize and cotton.

As per data provided by Punjab Agriculture department, the paddy sowing is currently trailing in Punjab with acreage under paddy having reached 22.97 lakh hectares as against 23.80 lakh hectares in the corresponding period of last season.

"The paddy crop sowing is lower by 83,000 hectares so far because of deficient rains," an official of the department said here. Punjab, which contributes 30-35 per cent of rice to the central pool, is eyeing 26.50 lakh hectares under paddy this season.

Similarly, area under maize has reached just 1.29 lakh hectares, with officials fearing it will now be difficult to achieve the target of 2 lakh hectares under the crop this year.

Punjab government is promoting maize as a major crop as part of its ambitious crop diversification plan.

Area under cotton could also not grow this season and has reached 4.50 lakh hectares so far as against target of 5.30 lakh hectares, official said.

Punjab government has already sought over Rs. 2,300 crore as financial assistance to deal with delayed monsoon and prolonged dry spell conditions.

With deficient rains and slow snow melting this year, the current water level in Bhakra and Pong dams was lower by 17.33 feet and 27.07 feet, respectively, as against the level in corresponding period of last year.

Water level in Bhakra dam today stood at 1,613.77 feet as against 1,631.10 feet in corresponding period of last year.

Similarly, water level in Pong dam was at 1,314.06 feet in comparison to 1,341.13 feet in corresponding period of last year, an official of Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) said here.

"The situation this year remains worrisome because of fear of deficient rains while the water level in both reservoirs -Bhakra and Pong is lesser this year," Chief Engineer in Punjab Irrigation department, Amarjit Singh Dullet told PTI.

Partnering states including Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan get water from Bhakra and Pong for various purposes including irrigation.

Meanwhile, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has resorted to load shedding on all categories of consumers including farmers and domestic category, citing poor monsoon and less power generation.

"Due to sudden increase in demand for power, owing to rise in temperature and poor monsoon combined with less availability of power from the new private thermal plants and lesser hydel generation, PSPCL is constrained to go for load shedding," said a PSPCL official.

Power cuts in the range of 5-8 hours are being imposed in several parts of Punjab.

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