Heavy rains, hailstorm damage crops in northwest India

New Delhi, Feb 7 : Heavy rains, accompanied with hailstorms, hitting northwest India for past three days have damaged standing crops, raising concerns over the overall output and the quality this season.

Light to heavy rainfall lashed parts of Delhi-NCR on Thursday with Dwaraka, Noida and Faridabad experiencing hail.

Hailstorms, accompanied with rains and high velocity winds, also hit Punjab and Haryana over the last 24 hours, leaving behind uprooted trees and broken branches.

Met officials said that rain and strong winds could hit the region in the next 24 hours. The rains led to the maximum temperature in the region dipping by four to five degrees Celsius in many places.

Chandigarh and its surrounding areas were lashed by moderate to heavy rain since Thursday, accompanied by strong winds.

The stormy weather also hit standing crops in many parts of both agrarian states and the governments have directed their revenue departments to conduct 'girdawari' (assessment of crop damage), mainly wheat, officials said.

"The standing wheat crop, which would have been harvested in mid-April, has been flattened by the rain and strong winds.

The damaged crop cannot be retrieved," Gurmit Singh, a farmer near Punjab's Ropar town, 50 km from Chandigarh, told IANS.

Wheat, maize, peas are the other major Rabi crops that have reported substantial damages in Punjab.

Jasbir Bains, Director of the state Agriculture Department, said an assessment of the damages would be done once the rains stop.

Karnal-based farmer Manoj Munjal said the wheat crop can be damaged if the rainfall exceeds 20 mm and water does not recede from the fields in two to three days time.

A senior Agriculture Ministry official said the thunderstorm will have a negative impact on the major crops -- mustard, maize, and wheat -- that were still in the flowering stage.

"Wherever, these crops have passed the flowering and fruiting stages, the rains may not damage them much.

Those still in the initial stage of cultivation would certainly be impacted," said the official.

He said there cannot be a certain assessment of the damages to wheat since cultivation period differ from place to place.

The government has estimated the wheat output to be about record 99.7 million tonnes this year.

In other parts of north India, farmers said horticulture crops, particularly, potato were badly damaged while the impact on wheat and mustard crops would be known after a few days.

Harpal Singh from Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar, said potato harvest in his area would be very low this time due to the incessant rains coupled with hail hitting the fields for past two days.

"Farmers in our region were earlier worried over price fall.

Now, the crop has been damaged due to hailstorm and water-logging," he said.

Singh further said potato output would not just lower but the quality would also suffer.

According to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), thunderstorm with isolated hail reported from Rajpura, Nabha, SAS Nagar, Moga and Ludhiana districts of Punjab with temperature dipping to 4.8 degree Celsius in the state.

Similarly, thunderstorm with isolated hail was reported in Chandigarh and Kurukshetra, and western Uttar Pradesh.

An IMD official said actual data about the rainfall in Delhi-NCR will be known on Friday morning.

The rainfall in Punjab ranged 4 to 39 mm while it was recorded between 2.2 to 5.6 mm in Haryana.

In western Uttar Pradesh, the highest rainfall was registered in Meerut, at about 13.8 mm.

The IMD has warned of thunderstorm with isolated hailstorm and strong surface winds with speed of 25-30 kmph at certain places in Punjab and Haryana on Friday.

Mahesh Palawat, director of private weather agency Skymet, said the western disturbance over Jammu (and) Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh and cyclonic circulation over Punjab were the factors for the thunderstorm.

There will be a dip in the temperature in Delhi-NCR to 7 degrees Celsius in next two days, he added.

Palawat said the western disturbance has started moving eastwards, which means rains will gradually recede from Delhi.

However, there will heavy rains in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and northen districts of West Bengal in days to come, he said.



Source: IANS