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Subsidy Likely For States With Separate Power Feeder For Farm Sector

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The NDA government is likely to provide subsidy to states that take up the task of having separate electric feeder for domestic use and a limited agricultural supply of nearly eight hours a day. The model is currently at work in Gujarat. The segregation of the agriculture feeder line has been on the agenda of the Planning Commission as well, but the state governments have shown reluctance to adopt the policy fearing political backlash.

“We will offer a subsidy to the state governments and convince them that segregation will lead to better utilisation of available resources, leading to lesser power cuts,” said a government official in the know of things.

“The amount of subsidy is being worked out. If we look at the Gujarat model, the whole state spent just Rs 1,300 crore to implement the project. The subsidy for the whole country would not be very much if things are implemented with sincerity,” added the official.

After setting up a separate agricultural electricity feeder, the Gujarat government has brought down transmission and distribution losses from 35 per cent to 15-19 per cent in five years.

Studies conducted by  the Ministry of Power and other state governments suggest that low cost or free electricity to agriculture sector leads to wastage and theft of power. If the government creates separate feeders for both sectors, it will help agri sector get constant and high voltage power during in the day, when agriculture activity is at its peak. The Bihar government had also begun a pilot project under the name 'Rainbow Revolution' on the same lines.

The ministry of power is preparing a roadmap for improving the electricity supply in the country, and this model has been discussed in all the pre-budget meetings held in the ministry, so far.

Union power minister, Piyush Goel had visited Gujarat after taking over the responsibility of the ministry to study the model. Gujarat was one of the first states to implement this model of electricity supply and it has improved the power situation in the state. Gujarat boasts of providing 24 hour electricity to all cities and villages.

In an approach paper to the 12th plan, the Planning Commission had also proposed the segregation of agriculture feeder line saying “ The separation of agricultural feeders in the country will enable villages to get 24x7 three-phased power for domestic uses, schools, hospitals and village industries."