BANGALORE: Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda laid out a total outlay of Rs 10,289 crore towards the energy sector in the state in his Budget, but experts have pointed out several issues, which needed to be addressed urgently by the state government.
Commenting on the decision to spread the pilot project in Doddaballapur taluk to replace existing pump sets with energy efficient pump sets, a senior official working in the sector said, “Replacing inefficient pumps will save around 1500 MW in the whole state. But the question is who will pay for the new energy efficient pumps.”
He added that steps like the involvement of private pump manufacturers on a benefit sharing basis of the energy saved was a problem since the benefit they would get could be measured only by metering the consumption in irrigation pump sets.
“This is a sensitive subject as the farmers are not ready to put meters in their sets even on an experimental basis,” he said.
On the provision of Rs 100 crore to augment infrastructure for regularisation of IP sets, experts feel that the provision is woefully inadequate considering that Rs 100 crore would only be able to accommodate 1000 IP sets while the state requires infrastructure for lakhs of such pump sets.
“When farmers are not in mood to pay even 1/10th of the cost, the burden has to be shared by the Government or people,” said a BESCOM official adding that the best option to bridge the gap between cost of production and controlled tariffs being paid by consumers was to allow the sector to be privatised.
However Chairman of the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) MR Srinivasa Murthy said that the government had provided enough subsidies in order to cover the expenses that the government pays on behalf of the farmers.
“Out of the Rs 2400 crore backlog, a part have been paid and if they have released more than Rs 4156 crore, they are doing a good job,” he said. The Agri Budget has a provision of Rs 4600 crore for payment of electricity charges incurred by IP sets below 10 HP used by farmers.