Amritsar, Punjab: Though farmers in several parts of the state suffered losses due to rain earlier this month, the worst hit are those having their fields across the Ravi in Ajnala. Their paddy and other crops are buried under three to four feet of sand, which came along the river water and following a breach in a drain in Pakistan.
During a visit to the affected area, it was found that there was hardly any trace of crop in fields as a huge quantity of sand had accumulated there.
One could only see the tip of the crop and that too at a few spots. The flow of water was such that it washed away a huge chunk of soil of the agricultural fields in some pockets.
Major Manmohan Singh Sarkaria, a progressive farmer owning around 50 acres of land across the Ravi, said he had grown poplar trees on 35 acres and paddy in the remaining 15 acres. “Paddy has been badly damaged as there is sand all around. The poplar trees have also been affected,” he said.
Apart from increase in the water level in the Ravi, he blamed a breach in Pakistan’s Basantar drain for the flooding. He said the rainfall had caused damage last year too, but then only their fields were inundated. “This is possibly the first time that sand has spelled doom for our crops,” he said. He demanded that the state government should help the farmers in getting their fields cleared of sand. He claimed once the government had undertaken the exercise in similar circumstances in Kapurthala.
Resham Singh, another farmer, said crops spread over hundreds of acres at Kasowal, Saharan, Kasowal Rajian and Saharan Rajian villages had been destroyed. “Had it been water, we would have initiated measures to drain it out. But we are helpless in front of sand. We neither have means nor resources to clear it,” he lamented.
Gurkirat Singh of Kasowal village said while the fields in lower areas bore the maximum brunt, the crop in upper areas was somewhat safe. He said the rise in the river level had caused damage in the past too, and that the farmers had lost 30 to 35 acres of their land to the riverbed earlier.
Sahdev Singh, who also owns land there, said, “It is not easy to cultivate crops here as we need to cross the Ravi on the lone boat daily to attend to our fields. We had cultivated our crop with great difficulty, but the nature’s fury has buried all our hopes of reaping a rich harvest.” He said they would not be able to cultivate their land till it was cleared of sand.
Farmer leader Satnam Singh Ajnala said the government should announce a compensation of Rs 30,000 per acre for the farmers.
Source: The Tribune