PUNJAB CM RULES OUT CHANGE IN PADDY TRANSPLANTATION DATE

CHANDIGARH, AUGUST 5: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday ruled out any change in the date of transplantation of paddy in the state from June 20 to June 1.

The transplantation date had been advanced to June 13 this year only on experimental basis and there was no proposal under his government’s consideration for permanently altering the date of transplantation of paddy, Captain Amarinder told the House in response to a question.

The Chief Minister said he would soon convene an all-party meeting to evolve a comprehensive strategy to arrest the reckless use of groundwater, and to change the cropping pattern to ensure water conservation. He appealed to all parties to rise above political affiliations and unite in the face of the critical water situation in the state.

Captain Amarinder pointed out that Punjab was facing acute shortage of water, which with even the Eradi Commission having assessed the river water level at 17.1 MAF at the time of its evaluation. The level had since gone down further to 13 MAF, he pointed out, adding that the problem had been aggravated as a result of the melting of glaciers, coupled with the greenhouse effect.

Expressing concern over the fast depleting groundwater level, the Chief Minister cited the Dynamic Ground Water Estimation Report-2017 report, published in 2019, to observe that the number of blocks falling under over-exploited category (where groundwater abstraction exceeds recharge) stood at 109 out of the 138 study blocks in the state. The groundwater level is depleting in about 85% of the state and the average yearly rate of fall of water level is about 50 cm per year, he added.

Replying to a question raised by MLA Kultar Singh Sandwan, the Chief Minister pointed out that earlier long-duration varieties of paddy were sown in Punjab but new short to medium duration varieties of paddy, introduced by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), were taking fewer more days to mature and require lesser irrigation. These new paddy varieties like PR 126, PR 124, PR 127, PR 121 and PR 122 were now being sown in 83% of the area and were maturing, on an average, in 110 days, he said, adding that marketing of these varieties was not a problem either.

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