Telangana begins trials for free, 24-hour power supply to farmers
State government will check for effects on demand and distribution network for a week before rolling out scheme in March, 2018india Updated: Nov 06, 2017 11:55 IST
The Telangana government began on Monday a one-week trial giving free, 24-hour electricity to the state’s two million farmers, a “first of its kind initiative” that officials said will be rolled out in March.
Officials said at least 23 lakh farmers will benefit from the initiative, which will be tested for demand in the trial period.
“We shall implement the 24-hour power supply scheme for agriculture sector free of cost for the next one week. Based on the feedback from farmers and after assessing the demand, we shall review the situation. And from March 2018, the free power supply scheme will be standardised and streamlined in the entire state,” Telangana power transmission corporation (Transco) chairman Devulapalli Prabhakar Rao said.
Electricity supply is crucial to farmers who use motorised pumps to irrigate their fields.
As a pilot project, the state gave uninterrupted power supply to around 9.58 lakh pump sets for five months in Karimnagar, Medak and Nalgonda districts before rolling it out state-wide.
A CMO spokesperson said that though free power supply schemes for farmers were implemented in a few states, Telangana will be the first to ensure the supply was free as well as uninterrupted all day. “Farmers of Telangana, who largely depend on ground water due to lack of canal irrigation, never used to get proper power in the past. After the formation of Telangana, the present government ensured nine-hour power supply a day to farmers. It strengthened the transmission and distribution network at a cost of Rs 12,000 crore in the last three years and now, it is able to give round-the-clock power supply to farmers free of cost,” the spokesperson said.
At present, distribution companies are able to meet a maximum power demand of 9,500 MW to agriculture sector during peak hours of the day. Transco officials estimated that at least 1,500-2,000 MW of additional power is required to meet increasing demand and implement the free-power programme. “We are prepared to meet the additional demand, but exact demand can be assessed only after conducting trial runs,” Transco chairman Rao said.
Officials have made arrangements to procure additional power and decided to expedite construction of new plants in an effort to increase capacity, the CMO spokesperson said.