Drought-hit Bihar farmers’ hopes lie in power supply

August 7th, 2010 - 3:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Aug 7 (IANS) In drought-hit Bihar, the hopes of small farmers now lie in the state government’s decision to provide uninterrupted power supply to rural areas for at least six hours a day to facilitate irrigation and save the paddy crop.
“We need to look forward to uninterrupted power supply if the government is serious to provide help to save paddy transplantation,” Gauri Singh, a farmer in drought-hit Adhapa village under Phulwari Sharief block near here, told IANS.

Singh, who owns nearly two bighas (less than two acres) of farm land and is working as a daily labourer in an urban locality here to earn livelihood, has lost faith in the rain god.

In nearby Shekhpura village, Lakhan Paswan, who has one bigha (less than an acre) of farm land, said he used to get sufficient food grain to survive but the drought was giving him sleepless nights.

“Our only hope is uninterrupted power supply,” he said.

The Bihar government Tuesday declared 28 of the state’s 38 districts drought-affected due to a 23 percent rainfall deficit.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar directed the energy department to provide non-stop power supply to rural areas for at least six hours a day to facilitate irrigation activities and save the dying paddy transplantation, an official said.

Official sources in the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) said it has begun its move to provide uninterrupted power supply for irrigation.

“The top officials of the BSEB are in touch with the district officials to provide uninterrupted power supply for irrigation,” an official said.

However, BSEB officials admitted that the power-starved state would need a substantial amount of money to procure an additional 350 MW of power for irrigation in drought-hit districts.

Vyasji, state disaster management department’s principal secretary, said the government has to increase the power supply to save standing crops and provide an opportunity to farmers to make use of land that could not be sown due to scanty rains.

Official sources said Nitish Kumar will hand over a memorandum to the central government Saturday in New Delhi, seeking financial help of Rs.5,062 crore to tackle the drought.

The drought has affected hundreds of thousands of people for a second consecutive year.

The shortage in rains has badly hit paddy sowing and transplantation in Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal, Nawada, Patna, Rohtas, Kaimur and Nalanda.

Over a dozen districts in Magadh and Patna divisions are worst hit. Last year, the government declared 26 districts drought-hit.

The monsoon usually hits the state June 12-14. The rains this year have been scanty.

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