Maharashtra government approved a scheme to provide electricity connection through a High Voltage Distribution System (HVDS) to farmers for their agriculture pumps.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Power Minister Chandrashekhhar Bawankule told reporters.
The scheme, estimated to cost Rs 5048 crore, will benefit around 2.24 lakh farmers who are awaiting new power connections, the minister said.
“Two farmers will share a transformer through HVDS lines, to be provided to farmers during August 15 to March 31 next year,” Bawankule said.
At present, 10 to 15 farmers are provided electricity through 65 to 100 kilovolt-ampere (kVA) lines, the minister said.
“In the present set-up, farmers get low voltage electricity and there are cases of power tripping due to defects in transformers,” he said.
“For Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, a budgetary provision of Rs 600 crore has already been made. State power distribution utility Mahavitaran will take a Rs 2500 crore loan (for the project) and the state government will stand guarantor,” he said.
Stating that Maharashtra is self-sufficient in electricity, the minister said, “We have achieved the demand of 23,100 MW and are able to provide uninterrupted power supply. There is no load-shedding for industrial, residential and commercial consumers.”
“For agriculture purpose, eight hours electricity is provided (daily). There are around 700 feeders where villages and farms have a common electricity connection and we are undertaking a scheme to separate them,” he said.
“We will complete 2,000 MW solar power projects by December 2019. The tendering process is complete. These projects will help over 5,000 farmers,” the minister said.
Around 45 lakh farmers have arrears of Rs 13,198 crore towards unpaid power bills, the minister said.
“We appeal them to pay at least Rs 5,000 (each) so that we can work to strengthen the transmission system. We have stopped disconnecting electricity supply (for unpaid bills),” he said.
In the last three years, farmers in Maharashtra were given four lakh agriculture pumps connections, the minister said. The cost of each connection is Rs 1.5 lakh, he added.
In the HVDS scheme, the expenditure per agriculture pump is expected to be around Rs two lakh, he said.