Punjab is heading for a major power crisis with the protesting farmer organisations not relenting or agreeing to end their stir of blocking rail and road networks against the contentious farm laws, officials said on Friday.
The state has appealed to the farmers to end train blockades, which have been continuing for nearly a fortnight, as the state’s coal stocks are critical, and if not replenished soon, there will be severe power shortages that will hamper the wheat sowing operations too.
Nearly 70 road networks, mainly near toll plazas, in 22 districts were blocked by the farmers on Friday.
State Social Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot told the media the thermal plants have left with coal for two days. After that the government would be forced to shut them, resulting in major power outbreaks.
Reiterating his government’s full support to the agitating farmers in their fight against the Centre’s ‘black’ farm laws, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has appealed to them to relax their ongoing ‘Rail Roko’ protest to allow goods trains to pass through in the interest of the state and its people.
In an appeal to protesting farmers, he has urged them to ease their rail blockade to ensure that the state is able to meet its critical needs and ensure that the citizens, including the farming community, are not put to any serious inconvenience in the coming days.
The Chief Minister, who on October 7 rejected the one-week ultimatum of farmer unions for holding a special Assembly session to negate the farm laws, has pointed out that due to the prolonged blockade of goods trains, the situation at coal plants is critical.
Once the supplies run out, the government will be forced to shut down these plants, which will severely impact the state’s electricity supply and cause immense hardship to citizens, he noted.
Further, said the CM, with not a single fertiliser rake entering Punjab for the past week, there could be a severe shortage of fertiliser for use by farmers for sowing of the wheat crop.
The Chief Minister has also pointed to the need to create space for storage of rice and wheat, to be harvested by Punjab’s farmers in the coming seasons.
For this, the existing stocks of these foodgrains would have to be lifted and dispatched by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to other parts of the country, he has stressed.