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Maharashtra in a fix as agricultural power bill dues reach Rs22,891 crore

Despite the amnesty scheme proposing the waiving of the penalty and interest amount the government has been able to recover the dues only from 8% of the farmers

mumbai Updated: Apr 18, 2018 00:42 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,farmers,electricity
The recovery of the dues has become a headache for the government amid the discontent among farmers over the agrarian crisis.(HT FILE)

Unrecovered dues from electricity bills of agricultural pumps has reached Rs22,891 crore in the state. Despite the amnesty scheme proposing the waiving of the penalty and interest amount — which amounts to Rs9,712 crore — the government has been able to recover the dues only from 8% of the farmers in the past four months. The amnesty scheme was launched in November last year. The recovery of the dues has become a headache for the government amid the discontent among farmers over the agrarian crisis.

The state government supplies electricity for agricultural use at a subsidised rate of Rs1.50 per unit by cross-subsidising it through higher rates for residential and commercial customers. The electricity dues led to rise in losses of the state-owned Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited, the power distribution company. To reduce the losses the company began disconnecting the connections with unpaid dues late last year, leading to uproar among the farmers. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had to intervene and roll back the decision.

According to the data collated by the energy department of the state government, the highest dues are from two districts in Western Maharashtra. Farmers in Solapur owe Rs2,557 crore while the dues from Ahmednagar district amount to Rs2,483 crore. This is followed by Jalgaon (Rs1,792 crore), Aurangabad (Rs1,539 crore) and Nashik (Rs1,267 crore). Around 38.73 lakh farmers owe the outstanding dues.

“We announced to waive off the penalty and the interest, which collectively amounts to Rs9,712 crore of the total dues. Despite this, only 8% of the farmers paid the dues over past four months. We are appealing the farmers to come forward to make the payment. Average dues from the farmers ranges from Rs5,000 to Rs10,000,” said Chandrashekhar Bawankule, state energy minister.

The dues from the other categories of the consumers, including residential, commercial and industrial, amount to Rs3,392 crore.

First Published: Apr 18, 2018 00:42 IST