VIJAYAWADA: Even as several farmers and farmers organisation have been expressing apprehensions over the installation of meters for agriculture power connections, the state power utilities said 92 per cent of the total farmers have given their consent for the implementation of direct benefit transfer (DBT) of power subsidy under the YSR Free 9-hour Power initiative. There are close to 18 lakh agricultural power connections and the officials claimed that the consent forms were voluntarily submitted by the farmers.
The power utilities termed the “massive response” from the farmers a “grand success of the pro-farmer policy”. Assuring that farmers will in no way be burdened because of the initiative as the government will bear the entire cost, the power utilities said that awareness has been created among farmers about the benefits of the DBT.
“As a result 92 per cent of farmers have given their consent voluntarily so far to the power utilities for the DBT scheme and signed agreements for installation of meters for availing the benefits of the scheme. Even though the Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) fixed a tariff of `5.73 per unit on an average for agriculture power supply, there will not be any burden on the farmers as the government shall bear the entire amount in the form of subsidy,” officials said in a statement on Sunday.
The state government, according to the guidelines mandated by the Centre as a part of power sector reforms, is in the process of rolling out the scheme across the State. The scheme has been launched as a pilot in Srikakulam and the officials claimed that it is being successfully implemented with 98.6 per cent of farmers in the district giving consent voluntarily for installing meters and entering into agreement.
“Under the DBT Scheme, no farmer needs to pay a single penny from their pockets. The government will deposit entire amount in the accounts of farmers. The farmers will pay to power utilities. The farmers will clearly know up to what extent they are using the free power and how much is being spent for it. This will certainly improve transparency and accountability among power utilities and provide right to demand for farmers,” Energy Minister Balineni Srinivasa Reddy said.
The minister further told the officials to take up intensive awareness campaign to clarify the doubts and apprehension, if any, among the farmers.The officials informed that the agreements were taken duly after holding discussions with farmers. Any complaint/issue from farmers with regard to supply of free power are being resolved on a top priority, they added.
“As of now, there is no practical assessment or accurate measurement of the agricultural load in the State. By installing meters, the load of agriculture in particular village, mandal, district and over all state wide can be accurately measured. This will help assess how many power lines, distribution transformers and power transformers in substations are required. The Discoms can plan power infrastructure for agriculture accordingly that will avoid issues like low voltage, interruptions etc,” officials observed.