Floods hit rice crop in West Bengal

Written by Rohit Khanna | ROHIT KHANNA | Kolkata | Updated: Aug 22 2011, 07:16am hrs
Heavy rainfall has led to floods inseveral districts of the state, putting the rice cropin West Bengal in jeopardy.

Although the state was hopeful of reaching record production in 2011-12 backed bygood rainfall in the first half of the monsoon, prolonged rain has inundated vast areas in several districts of south and north Bengal.

State agriculture minister Rabindranath Bhattacharya said the government was yet to ascertain the damage from the floods.

According toestimates with the agriculture department, 695.9 mm rainfall was recorded inGangetic West Bengal till August 15. Some of the rivers in north and south Bengal are already flowing above the danger mark and further release of water from reservoirs of the Damodar Valley Corporation could submerge fresh areas.

We have received reports regarding flood in some of the districts. We will be able to assess losses only when water recedes in those areas, said Bhattacharya.

Officials in the department said the situation would impact production of rice over 5.66 lakh hectares. On an average West Bengal produces more than 90 lakh tonne rice each year during the kharif season.

While production in 2010-11 was hit due to drought-like condition in eight districts, the state was hopeful of crossing the average production level this year.

Earlier this month, the state had set a target of increasing rice production in 2011-12 to 160 lakh tonne. It had set a target of producing Aus and Aman crop in 42.76 lakh hectare this year. So far, production has started over more than 85% of the land earmarked for the crop.

But prolonged rain in last two weeks submerged large areas in major rice growing districts like Hooghly, Howrah, Burdwan, North and South 24 Parganas. While 1.78 lakh hectare land is submerged in South 24 Parganas, 81,000 hectare in North 24 Parganas, 59,000 hectare in West Medinipur, 52,000 hectare in Hooghly and 42,000 hectare in Burdwan are under water now.

While Nadia is the top producer of rice (production 2,705 kg/ha), North 24 Parganas and Medinipur (West & East) and Howrah (2,000-2,500 kg/ha) have medium productivity.

Meanwhile, a massive release of 80,000 cusecs from DVCs Maithon and Panchet dams has aggravated the situation in Howrah, Hooghly, parts of Burdwan and East Medinipur.The discharge from the Kangsabati river has also increased from 5,000 cusecs to 15,000 cusecs, threatening to inundate fresh areas in East Medinipur.