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Punjab, Haryana farmers suffer as crop gets ‘electrocuted’



farmers crops

Chandigarh, April 14 : Farmers in the agrarian states of Punjab and Haryana are often blamed for causing environmental and health concerns by burning crop residue but scores of farmers also suffer burning of their crop for no fault of theirs.

Incidents of standing wheat crop being burnt to cinder across hundreds of acres in Punjab and Haryana have come to light in the past 10 days, just ahead of the harvest.

The reason? Short-circuiting of overhead high-tension electricity wires that criss-cross agricultural fields in both states.

In Punjab’s Patiala district, for instance, the crop over nearly 200 acres in Kathgarh Chana and Khagta Kalan villages was burnt last week.

“The short-circuit can happen anytime — day or night. While in the daytime, the fire is noticed by someone and steps are taken to control it, at night it can cause extensive damage,” farmer Jagir Singh of Patiala district told IANS.

“We had been complaining to the electricity department officials that the loose overhead electricity wires are dangerous, but they have not replaced these on time. This has led to the damage,” he added, pointing to his own loss of over Rs 2 lakh.

The Sangrur-Patiala highway was blocked by farmers for some time last week near Sohiyan village after the wheat crop — ripe and ready after four to five months of intense effort — was damaged on five acres of land. The fire was caused by a short-circuit.

“A similar incident took place last year. The authorities failed to replace outdated electricity wires,” farmer Balwinder Singh of Jheormajra village pointed out, adding that he was going to harvest the wheat crop when the incident took place.

Officials of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) say that they try to replace the defective wires but sometimes the exercise takes time.

“Whenever we get complaints from farmers and village panchayats regarding faulty and loose wires, we try to repair them on priority. However, sometimes a delay occurs and farmers have to suffer,” an Executive Engineer with PSPCL told IANS.

Farmers rue the fact that they are forced to fend for themselves as the fire brigade facility is available only in major towns and cities.

“The fire brigade reaches the spot after one hour or even later. By that time, the fire spreads. At times, villagers use local resources to douse the fire,” farmer Gurjant Singh of Bathinda district pointed out.

On Wednesday, wheat crop on 23 acres of land of two farmers was damaged in Chugte Khurd village of Bathinda district due to a short-circuit in the overhead electricity wires.

Revenue officials have to calculate the loss suffered by farmers in such incidents so that the authorities can provide some compensation to the farmers.

Green Revolution state Punjab, which occupies just 1.54 per cent of the country’s geographical area, contributes nearly 50 per cent of foodgrain to the national kitty. The production in neighbouring Haryana is nearly 40 per cent of that of Punjab.

By : Jaideep Sarin

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])


Assam: 40 Elephants die in 100 days as man-animal conflicts increase



Elephant crossinf railway line

Almost 40 Elephants died due to unnatural incidents within 100 days in Assam. According to a report published in The Times Of India , All of them have been killed due to unnatural causes, with the primary reasons being mowing down by moving train, electrocution, poisoning and accidentally falling in ditches especially in tea garden areas.

Bibhab Talukdar, secretary general of Aaranyak, an NGO that works on biodiversity conservation told the times of India,“It is very unfortunate that more than 40 elephants have died in the last 100 days. It clearly shows that elephants are not getting priority when it comes to conservation of animals.”

While rhinos in state are confined to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, an estimated population of 500 elephants in Assam have habitats across all reserved forests. The state has five elephant reserves covering an estimated area of 10,967-sq km. Only a small portion of these reserves are in protected areas, in the form of national parks or wildlife sanctuaries, while the rest are reserved forest areas.

Conservationists pointed out that elephant reserves in the state do not enjoy the same level of protection as national parks. They fear the large-scale deforestation of elephant habitats, which lie outside protected areas, has endangered the survival of elephants.


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You will die of pollution, if you fall in Goan river: Parrikar tells activist



Manohar Parrikar

Panaji, Dec 11: Some of Goa’s rivers are so polluted, that if someone is thrown into one, he or she would die of pollution, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday told an activist opposing inclusion of Goa’s major rivers in the Inland Waterways Authority of India’s list.

Parrikar was speaking at a heated interaction with activists and state’s elected representatives, which also saw ‘black mask’ protests by activists opposing increased coal transportation and ‘nationalisation’ of the state’s rivers and their inclusion in the Authority’s list.

After the Chief Minister was told by an activist that the interaction did not serve any purpose, because the Goa government in 2015 had already agreed to the six rivers being included in the Authority’s list and therefore it amounted to tying “a stone around our neck and already throwing us in the rivers”, Parrikar responded with a sharp riposte.

“There is no need to tie a stone around your neck and throw you in the river. You will die even if you fall in the river. If you fall in the Sal river you will die quickly. There is so much pollution,” Parrikar said.

The state government is in the final stages of entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Mormugao Port Trust, Inland Waterways Authority of India and Captain of Ports (Goa government) which will make way for nationalisation of Chapora, Sal, Mapusa, Pomburpa, Mandovi and Zuari rivers in Goa.

The move has seen sustained opposition from state’s fishing communities, opposition politicians as well as activists, who are accusing the state government of nationalising the state’s rivers in order to facilitate increased transporation of coal for three major coal importing companies, who operate from the Mormugao Port Trust, the only major port facility in the state.

During the interaction, Parrikar however said, that only the Parliament of India had the power to revert the decision on inclusion of Goa’s rivers in the Authority’s list and not the state assembly.

“The act has already come in force in 2016… Power is with the Parliament. Goa Assembly does not have the power to declare national waterways. It is with the central government, according to the Constitution,” he said, adding that those opposing the inclusion of the six rivers in the list can lobby with Members of Parliament.

The Chief Minister also said, that while the central government, as per the MoU will manage river navigation, majority of the powers will remain vested with state authorities.

Parrikar also said that opposition to inclusion of rivers with the Authority’s list had not surfaced in other Indian states. A total of 111 rivers have been included in the Inland Waterways Authority of India list.

He said that attempts were being made to create confusion by vested interests, who were trying to use the phrase ‘nationalisation of rivers’, to muddy the waters.

“Nationalisation is a word being used on purpose by some people to create confusion,” Parrikar said.


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Mercury drops to 7.6 deg C in Delhi

Yesterday, the maximum and minimum temperatures settled at 25.2 and 9.4 degrees Celsius.



temperature in Delhi

It was a cold day in the national capital with the minimum temperature dropping to 7.6 degrees Celsius, a notch below the season’s average.

The maximum temperature was recorded at 27.2 degrees Celsius, three notches above normal, said a Met department official.

The humidity oscillated between 84 and 31 per cent.

The Met office has forecast clear skies along with mist and shallow fog for tomorrow.

“Maximum and minimum temperatures are expected to hover around 26 and 10 degrees Celsius respectively,” the weatherman said.

Yesterday, the maximum and minimum temperatures settled at 25.2 and 9.4 degrees Celsius.

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