With an aim to boost agricultural production, the Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Limited (PGVCL) has decided to release 55,000 agricultural power connections this year (2014-15). However, the backlog of around three lakh applications from the farmers is likely to persist as the company says it would require a whopping Rs 4,500 crore to clear them even as new applications pile on every year.
“We have set a target of releasing 55,000 agricultural power connections in the current fiscal. Presently, applications since 1998 have been pending. By this year-end, applications received till the year 2000 will be cleared,” PGVCL managing director Sandeep Kumar said on Thursday.
“We are giving agricultural connections at a highly subsidised charges. Giving power connection to a farmer costs PGVCL an average Rs 1.5 lakh. But a regular beneficiary pays only Rs 12,000 while the farmer availing of tatkal scheme pays around Rs 1.10 lakh. To clear all the applications, we will require Rs 4,500 crore. On the other hand, we have been receiving average 40,000 new applications annually. So, it is likely pendency will be there for some time,” said Kumar.
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To meet the demand of funds to fast-track agricultural connections and improve distribution infrastructure, PGVCL had raised Rs 1,050 crore through bank loans, Kumar added.
“The state government has decided to release one lakh agricultural connections every year and half of them will be allotted to PGVCL since we have the highest pendency,” said Kumar.
As of now, the utility has 6.10 lakh agricultural consumers. They consume one-third of total power supplied by the company. Out of the total 19,052 million units (MUs) sold by PGVCL in the last fiscal, 6,032 MUs had gone to farmers, officials say.
On the other hand, farmers get electricity at a very cheaper rate. A farmer having regular connection gets power at 60 paisa per unit while a tatkal beneficiary pays 80 paisa. Farmers having unmetered connections pay Rs 2,400 per horsepower (HP) per annum, officers further say.
Besides giving them tariff compensation subsidy, state government also waives the fuel surcharge of Rs 1.10 per unit. At this rate, annual electricity bill of a farmer having connection of one HP will be Rs 2,400 but effectively he is required to pay Rs 665 only after subsidy
Minister of State for Agriculture Govind Patel had said early this year that one unit of electricity cost the state government Rs 6, but farmers were getting around Rs 5 towards subsidy on it. Total subsidy payout of PGVCL to farmers stood at Rs 1,478 crore last year, officials said, even as the company collected total revenue of Rs 10,475 crore.
According to 2011 Census, there are 18 lakh farmers in Saurashtra and Kutch alone, while the entire state has 54.47 lakh cultivators.