Jagan govt withdraws subsidy to Discoms, to directly transfer power bill amount to farmers
The free power supply to agriculture was introduced in combined Andhra Pradesh during the regime of late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy.Updated: Sep 02, 2020, 20:25 IST
In a major change in free agriculture power supply policy, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to withdraw subsidy to power distribution companies towards agriculture power supply every year.
Instead, the government will pay money directly to farmers for the power consumed by them in their fields and they, in turn, could pay the power bills to the Discoms.
An order to this effect (GO Ms No. 22) was issued by state energy secretary Nagulapalli Srikanth on Tuesday.
The free power supply to agriculture was introduced in combined Andhra Pradesh during the regime of late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy.
Until now, farmers have been enjoying unlimited free power supply there was no measure of how much power they are consuming. The state government has been bearing this loss being incurred by Discoms by extending free power supply to farmers in the form of power subsidy every year.
According to Srikanth, there are 17.55 lakh agriculture power connections in Andhra Pradesh consuming an average of 12,232 million units of power as per the 2020-21 estimates. The government has been incurring an expenditure of nearly Rs 8,354 crore every year for supplying this power to farmers free of cost. This amount is being paid to Discoms in the form of power subsidy.
According to the latest decision, the government will not pay this subsidy amount to Discoms with effect from the next financial year 2021-22. Instead, it will credit the amount for the power bill directly into the account of farmers in the beginning of the month so that they, in turn, would pay the bill for the Discoms.
“Like in the past, the farmers will not have to pay a single rupee for the power they consume for their agriculture operations. This will help the farmers know how much subsidy they are getting from the government every month and they will get a right to demand quality power supply from discoms,” Srikanth said.
However, there is a condition. The farmers will have to install meters for their agricultural power connections, so that they know how much power they consume every month and the Discoms would be able to bill for the power consumed.
Srikanth said decision to introduce direct benefit transfer (DBT) for agriculture power consumers was taken in view of the condition imposed by the Centre as part of performance-linked reforms under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan in order to avail of additional borrowing.
The government said it would open fresh bank accounts for farmers to credit the power subsidy directly every month. It proposed to constitute committees at village, block, division, Discom and state-levels for the smooth implementation of the new policy. These committees, besides creating awareness and redressing grievances, will also be responsible to conduct enrolment for new connections.
The opposition parties strongly resisted the government’s decision to do away with power subsidy to Discoms and introduce direct benefit transfer to farmers.
Telugu Desam Party legislator Anagani Satyaprasad alleged that the state government was trying to shift the burden of power subsidy to farmers. “Why should it transfer the money to farmers and ask them to pay the bills to Discoms again? The government can anyway pay the Discoms directly,” he said.
He wondered when the government was not in a position to pay salaries to the employees on time, how it would pay the farmers towards power bills. He also opposed the installation of meters for agriculture power connections.
CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna also demanded that the government withdraw the new agriculture power policy.