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Free power to agriculture: Burden on Punjab govt increases by 10%

punjab Updated: Jul 27, 2016 22:46 IST

The total power subsidy burden on the state exchequer in Punjab will jump by 14%, as per data of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC). “The total amount of subsidy for 2016-17 has been worked out at Rs 6,364.49 crore,” PSERC chairman DS Bains said here on Wednesday while announcing new power tariff for 2016-17.

Last fiscal, the total power subsidy burden was worked out at Rs 5,599.61 crore comprising free power to farmers at Rs 4,709.91 crore. With Punjab government bearing the entire subsidy burden on account of free supply of power to farmers, the subsidy to agriculture pumpsets (AP) (tubewells) has been worked out at Rs 5,196.77 crore. Thus, the hike in free power for farm pumpsets in particular is 10%.

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PSERC chairman DS Bains announcing the power tariff for 2016-17, in Chandigarh on Wednesday. (Karun Sharma/HT Photo)

The regulator has kept agriculture power consumption at 11,327 million units for 2016-17 as against consumption of 10,264 million units for 2015-16. Notably, SAD-BJP regime has been doling out free power to farmers, which has been considered as major vote bank for the Akalis.

The government has also committed to pay subsidy amounting to Rs 1,167.02 crore for free supply of up to 200 units per month to SC domestic consumers per month and non-SC BPL consumers with conneted load up to 1,000 watts.

The government will also bear subsidy of Rs 70 lakh on account of free supply of energy to dairy, fish farming, goat farming and pig farming.

The state government has also committed to pay subsidy to the new industries which came up through Progressive Punjab summit for the difference in tariff applicable to relevant industrial category and special tariff of 499 paise per unit. “The day a new industry is set up and starts consuming power, it will be charged 499 paise a unit and the difference between 499 paise and prevailing tariff rate will be borne by the state government,” said Bains. (with HTC inputs)

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