DEFICIENT monsoon is likely to cost the already cash-starved state exchequer over Rs 2,500 crore, as the Punjab government will have to shell out Rs 1,500 crore alone to supply extra power to the farming sector to augment irrigation.
The non-farming sector may also have to face powercuts, as electricity will have to be diverted to the farming sector. Besides, farmers are estimated to spend an additional Rs 200 to 250 crore on diesel to run tubewells and Rs 700 to 800 crore on reinstalling the tubewells that are likely to fail.
Moreover, according to estimates, the state is set to fall short of fodder worth Rs 20 crore. Water supply schemes worth Rs 30 to 40 crore are also expected to stop working in the coming days.
In its contingency plan, the state agriculture department has asked for 10-hour power supply for farmers — instead of eight — besides suggesting subsidy for farmers on diesel and new pump sets. The plan is yet to be cleared by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
“We will have to divert electricity from the paying sector (industry and domestic) to non-paying sector (farming), which means an extra burden on the exchequer. Since we cannot take much power from the industry — there is a limit to how much you can divert power meant for industrial sector — the domestic consumers will have to bear most of the brunt. We will also have to buy power from other states,” said a senior government functionary.
Meanwhile, the animal husbandry department has demanded Rs 20 crore to overcome the fodder shortage. “We will increase the area under fodder and also import non-green fodder and cattle feed from other states, which is very expensive,” said an official.
Moreover, the water supply department that runs 8,000 water schemes in the state is expecting 200 to 300 schemes to fail this season. “For this, we have demanded Rs 40 crore. Already in Kandi area, four tubewells have failed and an amount of Rs 2 crore has been released,” said an official.
The input cost of Kharif crops is also expected to become more this time. Punjab spends Rs 15,000 crore on Kharif crops every season and the output turns out to be around Rs 25,000 crore. “This time, inputs will go up due to deficient rains. The farming sector is already facing an economic crisis and we are trying every bit to bail them