Chandigarh, July 22 - Punjab government today sought a Rs 800 crore interim relief package from the Centre expressing its anxiety over the drought-like situation in the state caused by a deficit monsoon so far.
The state also sought 1000 mw additional power allocation from the Central pool in lieu of extra money being spent by the state government on purchase of power for the agriculture sector besides additional cost of diesel borne by farmers for irrigation of paddy crop, in view of "deficient and erratic monsoon."
Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Sukhbir Singh Badal said the state government has approached Prime Minster Manmohan Singh, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to immediately come to the aide of Punjab farmers to enable them to fulfill their commitment to make country secure on food security front.
He said 70 per cent deficient rains in the month of June and July in Punjab was the cause of concern for the state government as farmers of the were contributing more than 50 per cent paddy to Central pool.
Any failure of crop could have a bearing on the nation's food security, Badal warned in a statement here.
He said Powercom, the power utility of Punjab government, was making all efforts to procure power for the agriculture sector even at exorbitant rates with the single purpose of supplying sufficient power to the farming sector in the paddy sowing season.
"Moreover, Punjab farmers are spending a fortune on diesel for purchase of pumps just to ensure that the paddy sown by them doesn't wither away due to a deficient monsoon.
Powercom has purchased power worth Rs 6556 crore and farmers had to incur additional cost on diesel and it was imperative for the Union Government to compensate the Punjab government and farmers by sanctioning interim relief of Rs 800 crore as first instalment," he said.
The Punjab Deputy Chief Minister said Union Power Ministry should also "wake up" to the crisis being faced by the agriculture sector and should sanction 1000 mw additional power from the central pool to Punjab so that sufficient power could be provided to agriculture sector in this "extraordinary drought period".
Badal said Punjab was committed to bringing 29 lakh hectares under paddy so that it could fulfil its duty to the nation by ensuring a record paddy yield.
He said it was now the duty of Union government to immediately sanction Rs 800 crore interim relief and 1000 MW additional power to enable Punjab to succeed in its "national mission."
Badal said he along with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would soon call on the Prime Minister, Union Agriculture Minister and the Power Minister to underline the gravity of the issue and get the relief sanctioned for Punjab. PTI