A total of 63 case of fire in wheat fields damaging crop on 259 acres due to sagging electricity cables have been reported till April 20, reveals an assessment by Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).
According to principal secretary, power, A Venuprasad, who also holds the charge of chairman-cum-managing director of the PSPCL, the number of fire incidents in the current rabi season are less as compared to last year in the corresponding period when wheat over 223 acres was gutted in 100 incidents.
Farmers, however, differ with the PSPCL figure with reports of fire in fields coming from different parts of the state every day. “The PSPCL is hiding facts,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Balbir Singh Rajewal, adding that loss was much more and the power corporation was underplaying to figures to save its skin.
“In Moga alone, 300 acres of ripe crop was damaged due to fire 10 days ago. A farmer also died while trying to save his crop from fire,” said Rajewal.
Local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday announced Rs 24 lakh relief from his pocket to farmers at Oithian village in Amritsar whose crop over 300 acre was gutted. As per reports, the crop caught fire due to sparking in overhead power lines.
“If we go by these two incidents, wheat over 600 acres has already been burnt. “Yesterday, I got report from Khanna where crop over 35 acres was burnt,” said Rajewal. Farmers are fearing losses one due to the changing weather conditions and sparking in overhead the power lines, he added.
The state government has already ordered a “girdawari” to know the quantum of loss due to fire and unseasonal rain. Rajewal told HT that he had also asked all his district unit presidents to find out the exact amount of loss. According to him, the loss was no less than 5,000 acres. He reiterated his demand to increase the compensation to Rs 40,000 per acre from existing Rs 8,000 per acre.
Punjab power and irrigation minister Rana Gurjit Singh had ordered a round-the-clock vigil by the PSPCL staff to avert fire incidents in wheat fields.
“Despite our repeated requests to the PSPCL staff to strengthen power lines, nothing has been done so far. They just do temporary arrangements,” said Nek Singh of Khokh village in Nabha. Rebutting PSPCL figures, he said the loss in the current season was much more than last year.