The electricity consumption by agriculture sector in Gujarat has dropped by 11% in a decade,between 2002 and 2012,while the same has increased three-fold for industries.
The latest Socio-Economic Review for Gujarat (2012-13) shows that during 2002,the total electricity consumption in Gujarat was 34,700 million units,of which 9,817 million units were consumed by the industrial sector while 15,700 units were consumed by the agriculture sector.
By 2012,electricity consumption in Gujarat grew by 83% to touch 63,700 million units,with the industrial sector seeing almost a three-fold rise. However,the electricity consumption by the agriculture sector stood at 13,955 million units,registering a drop of 11%.
According to experts,while the rise in power consumption by the states industrial sector is on expected lines,changes in the state governments policies with regard to supply of electricity to farmers and rising power tariffs have brought down the number of farmers using electricity for agriculture purposes.
Farmers in the state have been facing affordability issues as far as power supply for the agriculture sector is concerned. During the last 10 years,a number of small farmers exited the electricity network when the state government decided to implement three-phase power system in 2003 wherein they were asked to pay for the electricity consumed, says Y K Alagh,a veteran economist and professor emeritus at city-based Sardar Patel Institute of Economic and Social Research (SPIESR). So,some of these small farmers,who earlier had to pay only a nominal amount for the erratic power supply shifted to diesel generator sets, Alagh added.
In the last two years,electricity tariff for farmers using horse power-based electricity connections has been raised by Rs 180 (per horse-power) annually,while tariff for those using metered connections remained unchanged.
The government absorbed this rise in tariff by setting aside Rs 2,890 crore in power subsidy to 9.02 lakh farmers in the state during 2011-12.
According to Central Electricity Authority (CEA),Gujarat currently supplies 10 hours of power in staggered form (in rotation of day and night) to agriculture sector. There is no supply of power during the remaining 14 hours of the day. However,24-hour power is available to those who are part of the state governments Jyotigram Yojana.
Since September 2012,the government started giving us 10 hours of power. This has been a result of our representation before the state government authorities, says Maganbhai Patel,president of Gujarat unit of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh. This year,the farmers in the state are facing a drought-like situation where they have power,but have little water to pump, he added.