After facing large-scale damages to Rabi crops due to repeated spells of rain and hailstorm this season in the region, farmers for the past few days here are now coping with a new threat — that of dry and ready-to-harvest wheat crop catching fire.
In the second such incident in just a couple of days, wheat crop over 100 acres of land was damaged in several villages across the district on Tuesday. Fire department officials said incidents of fire were reported from seven villages, causing major losses to farmers at Naruana and Balluana.
In the first incident, crop over 20 acres of land was gutted at Balluana village near here. The crop belonged to Hardyal Singh (10 acres), Resham Singh (5 acres) and Ruldu Ram (5 acres).
Two fire tenders of the Bathinda municipal corporation (MC) and one each from Gidderbaha and Malout civic bodies in Muktsar district were rushed to control the raging flames.
At Naruana village, wheat crop over 80 acres was destroyed in a fire that engulfed the fields in the afternoon. Three fire tenders from Bathinda MC and one each from Guru Nanal Dev Thermal plant, Bathinda, and Gidderbaha MC were rushed to the spot.
Wheat crop was also damaged over three acres at Deon and two-and-half acres at Manak village. Wheat crop in fields between Rai Ke Khana and Dhan Singh Khanna also caught fire late Tuesday.
Bathinda tehsildar Iqbal Singh, under whose jurisdiction Balluana and Naruana villages fall, visited the latter to take stock of the situation. He said as per initial estimates crop over about 80 acres of land was damaged at Naruana while at Balluana the damage was over 20 acres.
He said in the two villages (Naruana and Balluana), short-circuit in electricity wires resulted in the fire. He further informed that wires from a transformer were found in a field at Naruana, adding that only the officials of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) would be able make the picture clear.
He said that patwaris (low-rung revenue officers) concerned have been asked to conduct a survey of the damaged crop so that a report could be submitted to the deputy commissioner in this regard.
The farmers who suffered major loss are Jarnail Singh (10 acres), Baldev Singh (9 acres), Lilla Singh (7 acres), Gurtej Singh (5 acres) and Malkit Singh (5 acres) besides others.
Importantly, wheat crop over 80 acres at Gobindpura and Bhucho Kalan in the district and over 20 acres in Rauli and Chugawan villages in Moga was destroyed on Sunday.
As per agricultural experts, average yield of wheat in Punjab is 20 quintal per acre. The minimum support price MSP) of wheat is `1,450 per quintal which means that in the fire incidents (including Tuesday’s) over 180 acres in Bathinda and 20 acres in Moga, affected farmers have suffered a loss of about `58 lakh.
As officials of the fire station of the Bathinda municipal corporation, fire was reported at Balluana, Naruana, Deon, Mehraj, Lehra Mohbatt, Yoga Nand, Manak and near Dhan Singh Khana villages.