Chandigarh, October 9:

A spokesperson of the Punjab government has appealed to the farmers to relax their ongoing Rail Roko agitation in the larger interest of the farming community as it has severely impacted the Power, Urea/DAP supply and movement of foodgrains.

According to an official spokesperson, the farmers have been requested to allow the goods trains to pass through to meet critical needs so as to ensure the movement of food grains, supply of coal and Urea/DAP through special rakes in the state.

The spokesperson further said that the prolonged Rail Roko agitation could further aggravate the situation thereby jeopardizing the interests of farmers, adding that the erratic power supply due to non-availability of coal and shortage of Urea/DAP could badly hit the sowing prospects of Wheat during the Rabi season 2020-21 resulting in low yield of the crop.

Pointing out further, the spokesperson said that the disruption of railway traffic as a part of farmers protest could be a bottleneck to meet the requirement of Urea and DAP of the State as the current requirement of Urea stands at 13.5 lac MTs whereas the availability till date is merely 1.7 lac MTs. Likewise, against the 6 lac MTs requirement of DAP, its availability is just 4.6 lac MTs as of now.

Referring to the adverse impact on the movement of foodgrains due to farmer’s agitation, the spokesperson revealed that 10 lac MT of foodgrains has got affected. Till date, there are 115 lac MT wheat stocks of agencies and 25 lac MT wheat stock of FCI in state. Another 65 lac MT of Rice is lying in the state with FCI and on an average 1 lac MT movement a day is getting behind. As many as 24,480 gunny bales have been stuck at Delhi and Moradabad, which contain 22800 bales of state agencies and 1680 of FCI. Another 7480 bales to be dispatched from Kolkata would also likely to get stuck. The spokesperson further said that there is already shortage of bales in the state and non-receipt of these bales would affect the situation in Tarn Taran, Mansa, Ferozepur and Fazilka districts. Prior to the agitation, the state government was loading around 30-35 rakes per day.

Divulging further, the spokesperson said that coal supplies to the thermal power stations are hard hit due to ongoing agitation by farmers blocking rail tracks and the coal rakes already in the pipeline are stuck and could not reach the thermal power stations. Referring to the position of rakes in the pipelines till date, the spokesperson said that Talwandi Sabo Power Limited has 38 rakes, Nabha Power Limited (NPL), Rajpura (16 rakes), GVK Limited, Sri Goindwal Sahib (8 rakes), Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar (3 rakes) and Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat (4 rakes).

Due to complete halt in the movement of coal rakes imposed by farmer’s agitation, the spokesperson added that there is no evacuation of coal and the Coal India Ltd. has stopped further loading of coal to the thermal power stations in Punjab.

Terming the coal stock position at these thermal plants as ‘critical’, the spokesperson said that NPL has supply of 1.05 lac MT coal stock for 6.05 days, TSPL 93,949 MT for 2.79 days, GVK 4341 for 0.62 days, GGSTTP Ropar 85,618 for 6.16 days and GHTP Lehra Mohabbat 59,143 for 4.22 days.

The coal stock inventory at the thermal power stations is depleting fast and in case the agitation by farmers is prolonged, then it is apprehended that power cuts shall have to be imposed in the state due to shut down of thermal units for want of coal.

Although power is arranged from all available sources, however thermal generation within state shall also be required for meeting its power requirement for which regular flow of coal supplies to the thermal power station is required. With the available coal stock inventory, the thermal power station will not be able to keep generating power for a longer period, in case the movement of coal remains affected due to agitation by the farmers, added the spokesperson.

Notably, a request has already been made by CMD PSPCL to Member (Operations & Business) Railway Board, New Delhi through DO Letter dated October 5, 2020 so as to remove the restriction of coal loading at mine and sidings and to ensure rakes movement on priority to the thermal power stations of Punjab. However Railways is showing inability in resuming the coal loading and movement of rakes due to agitation by the farmers.

It may be recalled that the state government has constituted a three member committee comprising Cabinet Ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria with a mandate to have a dialogue with the representatives of various farmer unions/associations which are on the state-wide protest against the farm laws recently enacted by the Union Government.

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