CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government has set a record by providing one lakh free power connections to farmers in less than a year's time and ensured the participation of equal number of ryots in enhancing the state's prospects on the farm front, Chief Minister MK Stalin said on Saturday.
Terming this as "a very big achievement" in a short span of time, he said this unique feat far surpassed the performance of the decade-long rule of the AIADMK.
"This has been possible due to the efforts of Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji, the officials and staff of TANGEDCO (state-owned power utility) and farmers," the Chief Minister said in video conference interaction with them from here.
"Many were doubtful on whether one lakh free power connections could be provided to farmers in a year's time, when the electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji proposed to achieve the target. Even I was skeptical. But, the Minister has proved that he is capable of achieving the target," the CM said.
After announcing to provide one lakh new connections to farmers, he had launched the initiative on September 23 last year and gave sanction orders to 10 farmers on the occasion.
The government had achieved the target hardly within a year's time.
"The move will not only benefit one lakh farmer families but also spur the state's agrarian growth. When viewed in this aspect, the achievement is immeasurable," Stalin said.
Till 1990, the farmers paid for the power they had consumed. And there were 12,09,543 connections then.
Former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi announced to provide free power connections to farmers to enhance agricultural productivity and improve farmers' well being, he said.
During 2001 to 2006, the then government provided about 1,62,479 connections.
But between 2006 and 2011 the then DMK government gave 2,09,910 connections and in 2010 - 11 fiscal alone, 77,158 connections were given to farmers, the Chief Minister said.
But during its 10 years rule, the AIADMK regime had ensured only 2,21,579 connections from 2011 - 21.
"That is, on an average only 22,100 connections were provided per year. No new connections were provided to those who had applied," Stalin claimed.
As on March 31, 2021, a total of 4,52,777 applications were received from farmers and following this, he had assured in September last year to take expeditious steps to provide one lakh connections in 2021 - 22 fiscal and accordingly launched the scheme.
"Launching a scheme is not an achievement but ensuring the benefits fully reach the beneficiaries is real achievement. The connections were provided by March without any let up despite the pandemic and north east monsoon imposed hardships," he said.
As a result, the number of farmers availing the free power connections increased to 22.80 lakhs from 21.80 lakhs and with this the extent of acreage under cultivation increased to 2,13,107 acres, he said.