Govt to allay fears of farmers with demo solar plant on a field

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Published on Dec 26, 2019 12:10 AM IST
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ByAbhishek Dey, New Delhi

After several attempts to launch a solar power project on agricultural land, the Delhi government will set up a smaller plant to demonstrate to farmers that it would not affect their yield.

Senior government officials said the demo project — capable of producing 110 kW power per day [1 kWh = 1unit] — will be set up on an acre of land within the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, located in the western peripheries of Delhi near Kanjhawla. The research institute will consume the power produced by the plant in its premises.

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. Under it, the government said, they would ask farmers to allow solar power plants on their land.

However, the scheme is yet to kick off in the Capital.

Senior government officials attributed the problem to the fact that land holdings in Delhi are largely scattered. 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.

Even the farmers who consented, they said, later came back with lots of queries — the most common 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, among other things, the government officials said.

The operational model was prepared and tender documents were finalised but it failed to take off amid so much concerns, said government officials. To allay these concerns, the government will go ahead with the demonstration by January.

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 maintain a minimum height of 3.5 metres from the ground, allowing for farming activities, tractors to ply on the fields and other 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, officials said.

According to the statistical handbook of Delhi, the total cropped area in the national capital is 34,750 hectares, which roughly translates to 85,870 acres.

In September this year, government officials said that the power department in Delhi received consent from farmers for only 150 acres, located mostly in the western and northwestern peripheries of the city. Around the same time.

(ends)

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