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Some relief! Bihar farmers to get 8 hours power daily

Last updated on: July 16, 2012 13:47 IST

Some relief! Bihar farmers to get 8 hours power daily

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M I Khan in Patna

Here's some good news for millions of power-starved farmers in Bihar. The state government has directed the Bihar State Electricity Board to ensure at least six to eight hours of power supply for agricultural purposes.

The decision was taken to facilitate irrigation and save the paddy crop in view of drought-like situation in the state, officials said on Monday said.

"The board has ordered its officials to provide uninterrupted power supply for eight hours in 18 districts and six hours in 20 districts. Top BSEB officials are in touch with the district officials," a board official told rediff.com.

Fear of drought like situation in Bihar has also forced the state government to constitute a task force comprising officials from the department of water resources, major and minor irrigation and state electricity board.

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State Agriculture Minister Narender Singh said that in view of poor rainfall index that has badly hit the kharif crops, particularly paddy, the government is keen to offer all help possible to farmers.

"The task force would meet at one-day interval under the chairmanship of the chief secretary to provide updates and review measures for raising acreage under crops and extend all possible cooperation by various agencies to cope with the farm crisis," an official in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's office said.

According to development commissioner A K Sinha, the agriculture department has been asked to come up with contingency plans to meet kharif targets from block level upwards in consultation with Mangla Rai, the agriculture advisor to the government.

"The chief minister has also directed the minor irrigation officials that water flow must be ensured till the tail end of the irrigational canals," officials said.

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Till date, the state has witnessed a rainfall deficit of 44 per cent.

Monsoon normally hits the state between June 12 and June 14. But this year, it has been delayed by over a week.

After a record paddy crop last year, scanty monsoon rains have disappointed hundreds of thousands of farmers in Bihar.

An estimated 70 million people -- two-thirds of Bihar's 105 million population -- are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.

The agriculture department has earmarked 38 lakh hectares for paddy, 2.7 lakh hectares for maize and 1.5 lakh hectares for oilseeds.

Last year, Bihar recorded a bumper paddy crop as its output was 114 lakh tons, thanks to a normal monsoon. But the state produced just about 46 lakh tons in 2010 and 57.7 lakh tons in 2009 due to insufficient rains.

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