CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government is in a fix over power subsidy of Rs 6,060 crore for farmers and is brainstorming over its continuance. The state government is likely to save Rs 3,907 crore every year if the power department limits the subsidy to only small and medium farmers who land up to 10 acres, sources say.
This suggestion was made in a recent meeting held at Punjab CM Amarinder Singh's farmhouse. The meeting also brainstormed over increasing the revenue of the state government, put an end to unwanted expenditure in order to fill the empty coffers.
The biggest expenditure is of electricity subsidy as it is given to the farmers or the SC-BC community in the state. Total electricity subsidy bill comes upto Rs 9,674 crore per year. The state government gives free electricity worth Rs 6,060 crore to farmers, 200 units of free power to per family of the SC-BC community for Rs 1623 crore and industries are given Rs 1,990 crore subsidy.
The main suggestion was that all the politicians, sitting MPs, MLAs, Ministers, formers MPs, EX-MLAs, people holding constitutional posts, mayors, ex-mayors, chairmen of development boards, central and state government employees, farmers paying income tax and people who get more than Rs 10,000 per month as pension, and those who own agricultural land should not be given electricity subsidy.
It was also suggested that only 100 units of free electricity should be given to SC-BC families per month.
Sources said that about two lakh electricity consumers are having two subsidised agriculture power connections and over 10,000 are having four or more connections. As per the data with Punjab State Power Corporation (PSPCL), there are a total of 12.51 lakh agriculture power consumers in the state and more than 1.83 lakh have multiple agriculture power connections. Bathinda, the home districts of Badal family alone has 1.09 lakh subsidised electricity which is the highest consumed in the state.
According to sources, 57,707 big farmers are been given Rs 1,065 core in power subsidy as they have 2.37 lakh tubes wells. With 5.22 lakh tube wells, around 3.05 lakh medium farmers having land between 10 to 25 acres are given Rs 2,342 crore subsidy.
Meanwhile, there are 2.07 lakh small farmers with just 1.60 lakh tube well are given Rs 720 crore subsidy and 3.67 lakh small-medium farmers are given Rs 1,533 crore subsidy. Only 1.54 lakh farmers which have very less land are having 89,212 tube wells are been given Rs 400 crore subsidy, said sources.
Sources said that there are 13.51 lakh tube wells and on each tube well Rs 44, 835 subsidy and medium and big farmers have more than 3.97 lakh tube wells and if these farmers are taken out of subsidy then government saves Rs 3,907 crore.
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Revenue Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar besides Punjab Congress President Sunil Kumar Jakhar have given up power subsidy.