Delhi govt gets farmers’ consent to set up solar power plant on 225 acres across nine villages
New Delhi: The Delhi government has got consent from farmers across nine villages in the north-western peripheries of the city for setting up solar plants in 225 acres of agricultural land under a long-awaited scheme that aims to enhance the Capital’s power production and contribute to income of farmers.
“We have got consent for 225 acres of agriculture land where solar plants can be set up. The lands are located at villages in areas such as Alipur, Lampur and Narela. The project has been given a go ahead and tenders will be issued soon. We aim to launch the project this year,” said a senior government official.
In July 2018, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi had announced the Mukhyamantri Kisan Aay Badhotri Yojana – a scheme to increase income of farmers by setting up solar plants in their agriculture land, which would also enhance power production in the Capital.
Under the scheme, farmers would be able to continue with agriculture even after the power plants are set up as the solar panels to be installed would be installed at a minimum height of 3.5 metres from the ground, allowing for farming activities, tractors to ply on the fields and other agriculture-related machinery to be used.
The farmers would be paid ₹1 lakh per acre a year, and the rent would increase by 6% compounded annually. Once allowed, the plant would exist for 25 years. The farmers would also get 1,000 units of energy produced by the plant each year for every acre they rent out for the project, the official said.
However, the scheme is yet to formally kick off.
According to the government’s statistical handbook of Delhi, the total area under agriculture in the national capital is 34,750 hectares, which roughly translates to 85,870 acres. “But most of the land is scattered and that turned out to be a big problem for implementing the project,” said the official who did not wish to be identified.
According to government estimates, a full six acres will be needed for setting a 1 MW [or, 1000 kW] solar plant, which would be capable of generating over 1.2 million units of electricity annually, under the scheme.
On engaging with farmers for more than a year after the scheme was announced, the government also realised that there were concerns. “The most common one being whether the land would lose fertility, or if yield would reduce after the solar panels are installed. This, they assumed, would deprive the land of direct sunlight,” the government official said.
In January 2020, the government set up a demo of the project at the campus of an agriculture institute in Kirari, located in the western peripheries of Delhi. Even though the government had got consent for 150 acres of land by then, the project faced delays because of the Covid-19 pandemic.