Launch of an ambitious scheme seeking to segregate agriculture and non-agriculture electricity feeders with a promise for reliable and quality power supply will be Chief Minister, Mayawati's return gift for state's farmers, on her 54th birthday, here on January 15.
She is expected to announce the scheme named after Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar, during a function on her birthday here touting the progarmme as giant step not only to improve power supply scenario in rural Uttar Pradesh but also to fuel the 'much needed' agriculture growth and drive up many socio economic activities in villages. The UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) officials are busy giving final touches to the project to be announced by the chief minister.
Under the scheme be known as Dr Amedkar Krashi Sudhar Yojana, villagers will get power supply for their tube wells and homes from separate feeders (lines). At present UP has a mixed agriculture and non-agriculture load with consumers of both the categories getting electricity from the same feeders.
The proposed move, according to a senior official, will ensure a fixed, reliable and good quality 8 hours of (metered!) power supply to farmers for their tube wells resulting into reduced cases of damage of transformers and tube well motors. The non-agricultural rural consumers who will be connected to separate feeders will get more electricity for longer hours (14 hours at least) with least interruptions.
However, in the first phase the scheme will be implemented in the Paschimanchal (Meerut) discom comprising 11 districts with maximum concentration of tube wells. The districts under three discoms will be covered in next phases.
There are more than 5000 rural feeders in UP and separating them would require funds running into thousands of crores of rupees to construct new feeders. "We need Rs 2500 crore to provide separate feeders for agriculture and non-agriculture consumers in the Paschimanchal (Meerut) discom alone,' pointed out the official. The Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) of India has already agreed to fund the project, he said, adding 'We expect to complete the project in 11 districts within two years."
Feeder separation, in fact, is something the Central Government and power regulators have been insisting upon for a longtime and states like Gujarat, Punjab, and Hariyana have already successfully segregated agriculture and non-agriculture feeders, with 'positive' outcomes. Under the Revised Accelerated Power Reform and Development Programme (R-APDRP) launched by the UPA government last year, states are expected to reduce their Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) losses to 15 per cent in five years failing which the Central funds would be converted into loans in the proportion to which a state fails to reduce its losses. UP with around 45 per cent AT&C losses faces a major challenges and feeder separation programme can prove to be handy in this regard, this is said.
"Besides ensuring adequate power supply in agriculture and non-agricultural consumers, feeder separation programme will also reduce losses because all non-agricultural consumers, unlike now, will be given only metered supply," said the official, adding "Not only this the project will make energy audit possible helping the State to properly calculate the exact agriculture subsidy required to be given to farmers.