The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) decision to reduce the daily supply of electricity to tube-wells from six hours to four has basmati growers in the state worried.
The corporation does it every year after paddy starts arriving in the grain markets; but late-maturing varieties seem to have skipped its mind. When the paddy-sowing season commences, the assured supply to tube-wells varies from six to eight hours. It continues till the end of September, when harvesting begins.
This time also, it is unmindful of the fact that a major portion of basmati is yet to be harvested. The reduction in supply to four hours has come into effect already.
Amritsar chief agriculture officer (CAO) Paramjit Singh Sandhu has taken up the matter with deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat, who has contacted the local PSPCL authorities, from where the message has travelled to the head office.
Pointing out that Amritsar was a major basmati growing district, Sandhu said here on Monday that the crop covered almost 1.30-lakh hectares of it this year. "Of this, just 15% crop has so far been harvested and farmers still require irrigating the fields," the CAO added.
So far, the farmers have harvested only PUSA-1509, a short duration basmati variety that matures early. Moreover most of the harvesting has been in the vegetable-producing areas and still a major portion was yet to be harvested.
Basmati varieties such as PUSA 1121, Punjab-3, and Punjab-386 are still in the fields. PUSA-1121 will be harvested in the second week of October and the other varieties in the last week of the coming month. Adliwal village farmer Jarnail Singh, who took the issue to the CAO, said PUSA-1121 would require another two rounds of irrigation, while the other varieties might require three.
He requested the CAO to ask the PSPCL to keep the 6-hour daily supply to tube-wells till the end of October. "Every year, we have to remind the PSPCL," he said in a meeting with the agriculture department officials here.
Vegetable growers also raise issue
Chief agriculture officer Sandhu said the vegetables growers of the district would also require more hours of power supply to their tube-wells. "They want supply at daytime and not at night. This is because they have begun with sowing winter vegetables in the fields cleared of paddy or PUSA-1509," he added.