About 40 per cent of the standing cotton crop has been affected by the whitefly attack in Fazilka making it one of the worst-hit districts of the state. Official sources said out of the total 2.5 lakh acres under cotton cultivation, about 99,000 acres have been damaged partially or substantially due to the attack.

Farmers ploughed out the completely damaged standing cotton crop in over 700 acres of land in different villages. Sources said cotton plants have been damaged mostly in areas near orchards as the moisture content in these areas is higher as compared to others.

The state government is in a damage control mode. Sources said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had held a meeting of Deputy Commissioners of eight cotton belt Malwa zone districts on August 28 to work out a strategy to redress the issue.

Deputy Commissioner, Fazilka, Ravinder Singh, said revenue officials had conducted a special girdawri of 700 acres of ploughed fields for providing compensation to the affected farmers. “The compensation will be disbursed in a week or so,” said the DC. “In the first phase, the temporary girdawri to assess damage on the standing crop will be conducted from September 7 to 25, followed by the final assessment of loss,” he said.

 “To check further damage, agriculture officials and revenue officials have launched a joint campaign offering a live demonstration in fields,” said the Deputy Commissioner. 
Such awareness camps have been held in 74 badly affected villages and shall be held in 47 more villages, said the DC.

Rahuvir Singh of Mahuana Bodla village said, “The standing cotton crop in my entire 3 acres of land has been completely damaged due to the whitefly attack. I spent Rs 8,000 per acre on seed and pesticides and labour but it could not be saved.” He demanded immediate release of compensation.

Now, farmers dread Sept rains in Muktsar

Muktsar: After suffering huge losses due to the whitefly attack on the cotton crop, farmers in Muktsar district are now worried about September rains, which had last year inundated fields.
As per official records, 170.5 mm rainfall was recorded in just three days (on September 3, 4 and 5) last year, which had flooded the fields. “The growing crops do not need rains at this moment. We have not recovered from our losses of last year yet and if it rains now, it will cause a lot of damage to crops,” said Balwinder Singh, a farmer of Midda village.

The cotton crop in the district has suffered 30 to 35 per cent damage due to the whitefly attack.

“We have already cleaned the drains and also completed most of the ongoing drainage projects. Moreover, there is no forecast of rain for the next few days,” said an Executive Engineer of the drainage department.

Source: September 3, 2015, The Tribune