Maharashtra government will not cut power of defaulting farmers for now
Farmers owe nearly Rs 17,000 crore as outstanding electricity bills to the state government.mumbai Updated: Mar 23, 2018 12:02 IST
The Maharashtra government said it will stop its drive to disconnect farmers’ power connections because of non-payment of electricity bills. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced this in the Assembly on Thursday. Farmers owe nearly Rs17,000 crore as outstanding electricity bills to the state government.
They have been protesting against this drive for the past one year. This demand, along with waiving of pending power bills, was also raised by their leaders post the Long March protest this month. Some 30,000 farmers had marched from Nashik to Mumbai to raise certain demands before the state government, including the power bill waiver demand. While the government has not waived off the bills, it has halted the drive.
The issue was raised by senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar in the Lower House.
“At present, farmers and gram panchayats in the state have a pending bill of Rs17,000 crore. The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) issued a directive for recovery of non-payments of electricity bills, after which the drive began. However, considering the difficulties faced by the farmers, the state government has now decided to postpone the drive. Power connections will not be disconnected for those farmers unable to pay their bills,” Fadnavis said.
The state government has also decided to pay the electricity bill of gram panchayats, he added.
Pawar, while raising the matter, had said it is unfair on part of the government to disconnect the connections. “Farmers are not in a position to pay electricity bills owing to the financial crisis they are currently facing. The drive should be stopped immediately,” Pawar said.
Meanwhile, state marketing minister Subhash Deshmukh on Thursday said the government will purchase 4.5 lakh tonnes of pigeon pea or tur the farmers. “So far, 12.70 lakh quintals of tur from 1.05 lakh farmers have been procured. All market committees have also been advised not to buy pigeon pea at less cost than the price fixed by the state government. The government will not close purchase centers in any situation,” Deshmukh said.
In addition, the government has also purchased 54,341 quintals of moong (green gram), 5,86,000 quintals of urad (black gram), 2,62,000 quintals of soybean and 4,000 quintals of gram so far, he said.