As a Sankranti gift to farming community, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has decided to increase free power supply to agriculture sector to nine hours from seven hours. He directed the power utilities to work out modalities and make arrangements to increase the present seven-hour free power supply by two more hours. He also directed DISCOMs to clear all pending agriculture connections by end of March 2019. During a teleconference with officials on Sunday, Naidu said around 17 lakh of farmers would be benefited from the nine-hour quality power supply, the officials briefed the Chief Minister that the nine-hour power supply requires additional power of 2,800 MU to the existing 10,831 MU and additional expenditure of Rs 1,200 crore.
The present subsidy of Rs 6,030.17 crore towards agriculture for providing free power and new agricultural connections for 2018-19 is estimated to cost Rs 7,230.17 crore when the power supply to farms is enhanced by two hours. When the same was brought to his notice, the Chief Minister said: “Nothing is more important to me than the welfare of the farmers. My government is pro-farmer and our slogan is ‘farmers first’ and to benefit them, I will not hesitate to spend any amount,” he said. “No other state in the country spends so much on subsidy for free power to this sector like Andhra Pradesh,” he added.
Apart from increasing free power supply by two more hours, Naidu said completion of Polavaram project will raise the income levels of farmers and ensure water security to them. Claiming that 24x7 power supply was a major advantage to the State and over 90 per cent of the people were happy, the Chief Minister said every family and industry had suffered a lot due to severe power cuts before 2014. “The situation has changed thanks to the reforms introduced in the power sector by the government,” he reminded.
He said the State was the first one in the country to distribute 16 lakh energy efficient agriculture pump sets free of cost, each costing Rs 40,000, to replace the existing efficient pump sets. The new pump sets come equipped with a smart control panel and a SIM card, so that the farmer can operate them from his home by using a smartphone. The estimated saving potential of EE pump sets is about 30 per cent with a 15 per cent increase in discharging of water.
“The amount thus saved will be utilised for the welfare of farmers. The farmers will also be relieved from the burden of the operational and maintenance costs associated with these pump sets for five years,” he said. Principal secretary (energy) Ajay Jain told Naidu that a total of 40,681 of new energy efficient pumpsets have been installed so far by APDISCOMS. Around 75,000 solar pumpsets each costing Rs 3.5 lakh would be replaced this year at an estimated cost of Rs 2,625 crore. The farmers’ contribution is Rs 55,000 only to get 3 HP solar pump set, he added. Energy minister K Kala Venkata Rao and APTRANSCO MD K Vijayanand were also present.