In welcome news for millions of farms in power-starved Bihar, the state government has sanctioned Rs. 300 crore for a dedicated feeder line for agriculture, officials said on Monday.
The state cabinet approved the amount late on Sunday, an official in the chief minister's office said. "This is a first-of-its-kind dedicated feeder line to provide electricity to farmers in Bihar," he said.
According to officials, the state government plans to install 968 new feeders of 11KV each with 55,925km of distribution lines and 1.46 lakh transformers to primarily supply power to 19 lakh pumping sets in the next decade.
The government has projected year-wise requirement of estimated funds for the feeder segregation. The total estimated amount for the 12th and 13th five-year plan is around Rs. 8,370.44 crore.
The government has already projected its year-wise power requirements for agriculture sector for the next 10 years. By 2016-17, the state would require 1,478MW power exclusively for the agriculture sector.
The government's move will go a long way in increasing agricultural productivity, said an official of the state agriculture department.
Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar's economy, employing 81% of the workforce and generating nearly 42% of the state's domestic product, according to the state government.
At present only 5.83% of the total power supply to the state is used in the agriculture sector in Bihar, compared to 38 percent in Haryana, the highest in India.
Last year, President Pranab Mukherjee launched the much-awaited agricuture roadmap of Bihar. Its main objective is to help to bring a "rainbow revolution" in the state in the next five years, boosting the production and processing of agricultural and farm goods and pushing up growth rate in the sector.
The five-year agriculture roadmap covers the period 2012-17, with an investment of Rs.1.52 lakh crore. It aims at raising agri-growth to a minimum of 7% per year.
The Bihar agriculture roadmap is the first of its kind in the country and focuses on the development of food processing, food preservation, fisheries and animal husbandry.