| A farmer looks at his field at Bhartamai village in Raxaul. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Motihari, Sept. 14: The scanty rain during monsoon this year has raised fears of drought in East Champaran.
The lack of moisture has led to cracks on the earth in many farming plots. The farmers are in a quandary as most of the irrigation canals dug by the government have dried up. So have the tubewells in the absence of power supply.
Most of the cultivators are dependent on the government canals and tubewells for irrigation. Only a handful of affluent farmers can afford the expensive private irrigation system.
Sources said if the present situation was allowed to persist, it would spell disaster for the Kharif crop.
District magistrate Abhijeet Sinha convened a meeting this week to take stock of the situation. He asked the officials concerned to explain why the tubewells were not functioning.
The officials told Sinha that the shortage in the power supply had made the tubewells defunct.
He then asked the electricity department to ensure that sufficient power was supplied to the district for the smooth functioning of the tubewells.
Sources said the state government had earlier expressed its inability to supply enough power.
A fortnight earlier, the meteorological department had forecast that there would be scanty rainfall during this period.
The information was a rude jolt to the farmers who had already cultivated crops over vast tracts of land.
Sources said the cultivation of paddy had been planted nearly on 1,097 hectares, maize on 8,500 hectares, pulses on 4,500 hectares and oilseeds on 950 hectares.
According a source in the agriculture department, a report has been prepared about the estimated loss of crops. The department said around 15 per cent of the cultivated crops could be lost in the drought-like condition.
Non-government agencies, however, claim that losses could amount to double that figure.
Bhuwaneshwar Singh, a farmer, said: “In the present condition, we could lose a year’s crops.”
Prakash Pandey, another farmer, said: “The state government distributes subsidy amount on diesel for timely irrigation of their crop in a drought-like situation. But the money is often not utilised properly because of delay in distribution.”
Asked what caused the delay in the distribution of fuel subsidy, Pandey said: “It often reaches the farmers concerned late because of various formalities and paperwork.”
The district agriculture officer, Dharmveer Pandey, said he was hopeful that the new pump sets operated by solar energy would come to the district by the end of this year.
“These would be distributed with 80 per cent subsidy for the relief of farmers in East Champaran,” Pandey pointed out.