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India - Waterlogging damages cotton crop on 17,000-hectare land in Abohar

Cotton growers in the semi-arid Abohar belt of Fazilka district are facing losses as waterlogging on nearly 17,000 hectares of land for more than a fortnight has damaged their standing crop.

Fields in at least 20 villages were inundated after the catchment area of the Aspal drain in Fazilka, Muktsar and Ferozepur districts had witnessed heavy rainfall on August 21 and 22.

Due to heavy inflow of rainwater, the drain breached its banks near the Seeto Gunno area of Abohar and it led to flooding in the adjoining areas.

But there has been no improvement in the situation ever since, say the farmers.

Officials of the state agriculture department say the chances of survival of most of the crop, which is underwater up to than 4 feet in several villages, are bleak.

“The crop was in the final stage of maturity as the first picking of cotton balls was expected after September 20. As fields are still inundated, a sizeable number of cotton plants may not survive,” said Jalour Singh, who holds the additional charge of Fazilka chief agriculture officer.

Besides cotton crop having been adversely affected on 17,000 hectare land as per an initial assessment, paddy on nearly 4,000 hectares was also flooded in the area, he added.

“Paddy sown on about 1,000-hectare land faces a serious problem even as the rest of the crop may survive,” he said.

With 1.22 lakh hectare land under cultivation, Fazilka district ranked second after Bathinda in sowing of the cotton crop this year.

Pawan Sihag of Sardarpura village said his crop on 18 acres was completely damaged. “I was expecting a bumper yield as the climatic conditions remained conducive for the crop this time,” said Sihag.

Dutarwali sarpanch Surinder Kumar Bishnoi said 2,200-acre farm area in their village is almost submerged for the last over two weeks. “The drain had caused havoc in the area earlier also but the authorities concerned did not come forward with a solution. Villages are getting adequate power supply but septic tanks in household toilets are overflowing. The administration should press more pumps in service to drain out water from the fields,” said Bishnoi.

Kulwinder Singh, a farmer from Bajidpur Bhoma, expressed concern over non-availability of cattle fodder. “Green and dried fodder also got damaged due to waterlogging. The state authorities should extend support to ease the situation,” said Singh whose crop on 20-acre land is also submerged.

State drainage department executive engineer Sukhjit Singh said most part of the affected area is up to eight feet below the drain channel. “It is a major task to drain out a large volume of water from a vast area. Our top priority is to ensure that inhibited areas do not get waterlogged,” he said.

Fazilka deputy commissioner Arvind Pal Sandhu said girdawri (crop loss assessment) has been ordered. The drainage department has been provided with logistical support to dewater the farmland.

Source – https://www.hindustantimes.com