Chandigarh, April 18 (IANS) Standing wheat crop in hundreds of acres in Punjab and Haryana has been damaged due to untimely rains and hailstorm over the past 72 hours, according to revenue and agriculture officials from both states, here on Thursday.
Agriculture Department officials said the losses could run into hundreds of crores, though the exact damage would be known only after assessment by revenue officials in various districts of the states.
According to officials, the rain damaged not just the standing crop but also harvested wheat at various grain markets as it was lying in the open.
“The procurement agencies will not buy this wheat because of higher moisture content than specified. The government should immediately do something to help farmers,” said Kirpal Singh, a farmer in the Ludhiana district.
Farmers said the squall destroyed thier months’ of hard work in a few hours. “We were going to harvest the crop in two days. We had booked a combine harvestor. But now it won’t work because the fields are wet. Elsewhere, the crop has been flattened. It is a big loss,” said Jugraj Singh, a young farmer.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday ordered a special girdawari (crop inspection) to assess the damage.
The Chief Minister asked the officials to start without any delay the special girdawari to assess damage due to the weather disruptions, said a government spokesperson and added, the assessment had to be completed on priority.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) too have expressed concern over the losses to farmers.
AAP legislator and Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Harpal Singh Cheema said though the damage was widespread, it was serious in Ropar, Jalandhar, Patiala, Fazilka, Kapurthala and Bhatinda areas and sought release of 100 per cent compensation for the affected farmers within a stipulated time.
Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal too has demanded Rs 15,000 per acre compensation to the affected farmers.
Though the weather became clear in most areas in both the states on Thursday, the maximum temperature was 14 degree below normal on Wednesday after more rain and thunderstorm.