Private companies will be allowed to put up solar panels in Delhi’s agricultural lands, letting farmers earn up to Rs 1 lakh per acre as rent, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Tuesday, terming it as a model that can be emulated across the country to double their income. The decision taken by the AAP Cabinet, aimed at consolidating the party’s rural vote base, comes within days of the government initiating the process to let Delhi’s villages have more land as non-agricultural land.
The power generated under the ‘Mukhyamantri Kisan Aay Badhotri Solar Yojana’, which will be implemented in the next “eight to nine months”, will be bought by various Delhi government departments at around Rs 4 per unit, which is cheaper than the current rate of procurement of around Rs 9 per unit, the CM said at a press conference.
“The panels will be put up at a height of 3.5 meters so it will not affect farming activities. A maximum of one-third of a farmer’s land can be used by the companies. Today, a farmer earns around Rs 30,000 per acre annually. This scheme will let them earn three to four times more,” Kejriwal said.
“Delhi govt announces big step for the farmers in the rural Delhi, they can earn huge from lifted solar plant in their field which can earn them ?1 Lakh/Acre per year in their income. Farmers to be given 1000 unit free electricity per acre every year”- Delhi CM @ArvindKejriwal pic.twitter.com/sQfxStyXau
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) July 24, 2018
Delhi, which is predominantly urban, has around 34,700 hectares of crop area currently, following a steady decline of around 34 per cent since 2000. Around 0.71% of the city’s working population is engaged in the farming sector, according to the state economic survey.
Part of the government’s ‘Green Budget’ announced earlier this year, the scheme, for which farmers will not have to pay any amount, will help achieve the targets listed under the Delhi Solar Policy 2016, he said, adding “it will also be a big step towards transitioning to clean energy…this can be a model for the whole country”. Power Minister Satyendar Jain said around five private companies have already shown interest in this regard.