A day after newly elected Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh waived off farmer loans, the BJP-led Gujarat government announced on Tuesday that it would write off electricity bills of connection holders in rural areas to the tune of Rs 650 crore. Making the announcement, Gujarat Energy Minister Saurabh Patel said 6.22 lakh people would benefit from the move.
“Total 6.22 lakh connection holders in rural areas across the state will be benefited with this waiver to the tune of Rs 650 crore pending electricity bills,” PTI quoted Patel as saying. A circular issued by the energy department said the waiver would apply to domestic, agricultural and commercial connections across the state’s rural zone.
The minister further said these connections were cut off due to power theft and non-payment of bills. “Under our one-time settlement scheme, consumers, can get back their power connection, be it agriculture, household or commercial, by paying just Rs 500. They will not be required to pay the outstanding dues, as the government has decided to waive it completely,” he added.
With the announcement, the Vijay Rupani government will look to assuage concerns of the farmer community, which has been disenfranchised with the BJP, leading to the party’s worst performance in the state in recent times, where it managed to win 99 seats in the 182-member assembly.
In August, Patel had said that out of the 46.61 lakh farmers in Gujarat, the government had provided new electricity connections to 19 per cent of them in the last 15 years. “The government has not only doubled the total number of power consumers to 72 lakh, but it has also provided new connections to 8.83 lakh farmers in the state,” the minister had said.
On Monday, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath signed an order to waive farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh. Hours later, Chhattisgarh followed suit, with Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel announcing that the Cabinet had decided to waive loans of more than 16 lakh farmers to the tune of Rs 6,100 crore.