Chandigarh, Oct 9 : Punjab is heading for a major power crisis as farmers continue their protests by blocking rail and road networks in the state against the contentious new farm laws, officials said on Friday.
The state has appealed to the farmers to end the train blockades, which has been continuing for nearly a fortnight, as the state’s coal stocks are ‘critical’. If not replenished soon, there will be severe power shortages and thus hamper wheat-sowing operations too, the officials said.
Nearly 70 road blockades, mainly near toll plazas, in 22 districts were set up by the farmers on Friday.
Social Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot told the media that the state’s thermal plants were left with coal for two days only. After that, the government will be forced to shut them, resulting in major power outbreaks, he added.
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.
He has also urged them to ease their rail blockade in order 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 issued by the 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 the 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 the citizens, he noted.
Further, said Amarinder Singh, with not a single fertiliser rake entering Punjab for the past one week, there could be severe shortage of fertiliser for use by farmers for sowing 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 foodgrains will have to be lifted and dispatched by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to other parts of the country, he has stressed.