A below par rainfall in most parts of Maharashtra in August has reignited concerns of moisture stress and crop damage. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday convened an emergency review meeting where the government decided to bear an additional Rs 600-crore burden for salvaging crops.
A decision to increase the duration of subsidised power supply to farm pumps was taken during the meeting. While the state currently assured 8-10 hours electricity to farm pumps, Fadnavis has directed authorities to ensure that the duration was increased to at least 12 hours.
The chief minister further directed officials to ensure that the increased supply was granted during day hours, facilitating the farmer to irrigate fields. Energy Minister Chandrasekhar Bawankule confirmed that the state will bear an additional Rs 600-crore burden following the move.
Maharashtra has witnessed a mixed spell of monsoon so far this year. While most parts of the state received normal to above normal rainfall in June and July, August has been practically dry for several belts. Further in Marathwada, which was worst affected by the drought spell, some districts have witnessed rainfall which is 50 per cent below normal.
“The uninterrupted power supply will enable farmers to water their crops in the day times,” said a press communication issued by the CMO.
Fadnavis also directed a crackdown on instances of power theft and told officials to designate nodal police stations in each district for such complaints. Meanwhile, in another related decision, the government has decided to pilot a project of using solar energy to power an agriculture feeder in north Maharashtra’s Sangamner.
RInfra opposing uniform power tariff for Mumbai
Energy Minister Chandrasekhar Bawankule said the state government had firm plans for implementing a uniform power tariff for domestic consumers consuming up to 100 units in Mumbai. “Three out of the four discoms — Tata Power, BEST and Mahavitran — are already on board for the initiative. Reliance Infra has maintained that it would incur a loss of Rs 150 crore, but we feel that this loss can be overcome if they bring down their administrative costs. We will give our say once the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission reviews the tariff plans for these discoms,” the minister informed. He also said the government will get accounts of both the private power discoms — Tata Power and Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) — audited independently to help assess if the discoms were inflating their capital costs for hiking consumer power tariffs.