Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has introduced Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) for Agriculture Tubewell (AP) ahead of the paddy sowing season so that farmers can use more powerful motors to pull water from the low groundwater reserves in the state.
The scheme – it will be applicable for all existing consumers from June 10 onwards – will regularise higher power loads and allow farmers to extend their tubewells. Earlier in February, farm union leaders had demanded to be allowed to extend their tubewells during a farm year, and have welcomed this move.
Farmers covered under this scheme and who have increased their power loads without clearance by PSPCL will not be levied any penalty. Field officers will visit farms of AP consumers and inspect the power load and regularise any unauthorised increase in the connected load. It will be mandatory for farmers under the scheme to either remove the unauthorised or get it regularised.
PSPCL officials informed that under the scheme, AP consumers will have to pay Rs 2,500 per BHP and Rs 200 as security. Before VDS, farmers would have to pay Rs 4,750 per BHP apart from a penalty fee to regularise an unauthorised increase in power load.
The circular issued for VDS on Friday reads, “Keeping in view the onset of paddy season and urgent requirement to increase the load of AP consumers due to depleting water level, this VDS scheme is being introduced immediately in anticipation of approval of Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC). PSPCL has considered to start the augmentation work immediately in order to arrest the damage rate of distribution and transformers. Terms and conditions of the VDS scheme shall be subject to the final order passed by PSERC.”
Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary of Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) Dakaunda, told The Indian Express that it is good that the government launched such a scheme ahead of paddy sowing as many farmers have already increased the capacity of their submersible motors due to the depleting groundwater levels.
“Practicing agriculture is the source of livelihood of the farmers and it is the business for them. Farmers are compelled to invest in higher rating motors without any increase in land holding or crop increase due to depleting water levels,” he said.
Earlier in 2019, meetings were held between PSPCL officials and various farmer unions to discuss the issue of bonafide consumers settled outside being a roadblock to complete formalities; this issue has now been addressed.