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Vegetable hub of Malerkotla crying for 8-hour power supply

Vegetable growers have to keep awake at night to irrigate their crops, which makes it difficult for them to sell their produce during day time.

punjab Updated: Dec 20, 2017 12:30 IST
Avtar Singh
Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Malerkotla (Sangrur)
Vegetable hub,Malerkotla,electricity woes
A farmers working in a cauliflower field in Malerkotla. (HT Photo)

Vegetable growers in Malerkotla area, who have set an example of diversification in the state by cultivating vegetables for several decades, have allegedly been facing acute shortage of power for the past six months.

As per the directions of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), agriculture feeders meant for vegetable growers are supposed get power supply during the day time. However, 18 such feeders in the area have allegedly failed to get power supply during the day or even for the promised eight hours to all farmers.

Vegetable growers have to keep awake at night to irrigate their crops, which makes it difficult for them to sell their produce during day time.

“It is very difficult to work round the clock in winter season. Vegetable crops demand a lot of care because surplus water can damage the plants. We cannot easily notice the amount of water during night. The odd-time power supply for a few hours is badly affecting our business,” said Jagir Singh, 54, of Mandian village, who is growing vegetables on 10-acre land.

The Muslim-dominated Malerkotla is a vegetable hub of Punjab. The growers in the area, from big farmers to small peasant to landless people, have been growing vegetables for generations.

Peasants of around 35 villages in the area have been growing kheera (cucumber), karela (bitter gourd), bhindi (lady finger), brinjal, cauliflower, onion and garlic. The cauliflower crop is currently being sold in the markets while onion and capsicum have lately been sowed.

“There has been no power supply for the past four days. We cannot afford generator because purchase of diesel increases our cost of production. We haven’t even got any subsidy for the past two years,” said Mohammad Sabir, 40, a local vegetable gower.

“I have taken 100 bigha land on a rent of Rs 11,000 per bigha. The seeds of vegetable crops are very costly. I am under Rs 3.50-lakh debt taken from private moneylenders. We cannot survive without adequate power supply,” said Mohammad Aslam, 50.

Both big and small farmers demand power supply for 8 hours during day time. “There are 22 feeders supplying power to vegetable growers in the area, but PSPCL counts only 18. We demand eight-hour supply on all 22 feeders,” said Mohmood Akhtar Shad, who cultivates 20-acre land.

Meanwhile, PSPCL su­per­in­tend­ing en­gi­neer Gain Chand Singla of Barnala division, which caters to Malerkotla area, said 18 feeders have been declared vegetable feeders as per the prescribed norms. “We are providing power for 8 hours. If farmers in the area are facing any problem, they can give a representation in this regard.”

First Published: Dec 20, 2017 12:28 IST