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Farmers under debt, so power subsidy to continue, says Rana Gurjit

The report had also documented that 81.52% of the free farm electricity beneficiaries in Punjab are medium and large farmers.

punjab Updated: Dec 16, 2017 10:39 IST
Vishal Rambani
Vishal Rambani
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Rana Gurjit,Farmers under debt,Punjab farmers
Irrigation and electricity minister Rana Gurjit inaugurating the paddy converts to pallets in Rajpura town on Friday, December 15, 2017.Photo by .(Bharat Bhushan Hindustan Times)

Even as a recent research study by eminent economist RS Ghumman, professor at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), has shown that among total farmer beneficiaries of free electricity, only 18% are small and marginal farmers, state irrigation and power minister Rana Gurjit Singh has said that free power to the sector will continue.

The report had also documented that 81.52% of the free farm electricity beneficiaries in Punjab are medium and large farmers.

“I do not want to go into database of who is a beneficiary and who is not. Let me clarify that in Punjab, no farmer is rich. All farmers, either having marginal or large land holding, are under debt. Many studies have highlighted this. Both free power and farm loan waiver are part of our election promises. The Congress government will fulfil its promises,” the minister said, on the sidelines of a function in Rajpura on Friday.

He added that regardless of its financial condition, the Congress government will not withdraw free power to the agricultural sector. “Agriculture is Punjab’s core sector and needs more investment and Central funding,” he added.

On being questioned on the delay in issuing the notification for supplying power to the state’s industry at the subsidised rate of Rs 5 per unit, he said, “This is our commitment. The industry department has to clear the file, and it is with the chief minister. I cannot comment.”

He added he had no idea of what this measure will cost the state government. However, sources said the government needed to pay Rs 2,800 crore to the PSPCL for the move and thus, the proposal was facing difficulty in clearance.

The minister claimed that the state was unable to implement even more beneficial schemes for consumers as the PSPCL had a loan of Rs 31,000 crore and the government had inherited this legacy from the previous regime. “We are taking steps to reduce the expenditure of PSPCL,” he said.

Power tariff increased instead

of being lowered: Sukhbir

Chandigarh SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday said the Congress government had betrayed industrialists by sending them enhanced power bills with a tariff increase of around 10% on old rates, even while it claimed that it will fulfil it poll promise of supplying it to industry at ₹5 per unit.

“In addition to the earlier tariff rate of around ₹8 per unit, a further increase of 10% has been imposed in the two month power bill being received by consumers,” he added. The former deputy chief minister said urbanites were also paying a heavy price for the government’s inability to manage the power sector.

He claimed that the power tariff in urban areas had been increased by 12%. He added, a municipal tax had also been imposed on power bills in municipal areas. HTC

First Published: Dec 16, 2017 09:38 IST