The ambitious Rs 5,000-crore high voltage distribution system (HVDS) launched by the state government to provide electricity to farmers will be a game-changer, Vishwas Pathak, Director, Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) Holding Company, told reporters here on Friday.
Under the scheme being introduced in a phased manner in Maharashtra, at least 10,000 farmers in Pune district will get agriculture connections by October next year, he said.
Separately, because of the drought in the state, the government has also decided to put off recovering electricity arrears to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore from farmers.
Taking stock of the power sector in the state, Pathak admitted there were gray areas and challenges to be met. “We do not claim that we have resolved all the issues but in the last four years, we have provided 4.5 lakh new agriculture connections. This means, almost every year 1.10 lakh connections were provided as against only 40,000 connections given previously. In fact, with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule laying emphasis on farmer-driven schemes, we are ensuring that they get electricity supply during the daytime,” he said.
Sanjay Taksande, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL)’s Pune regional director, said that Rs 176 crore had been set aside for the 10,000 new connections to be provided to farmers in Pune district. MSEB is the parent company of MSEDCL.
Under HVDS, only two farmers will share a transformer. At present, 10-15 farmers share one transformer. Not only will it reduce the load on transformers but also ensure high-voltage and continuous power supply to farmers, a MSEDCL official said.
State geared to meet 28,000 MW demand
Having met an unprecedented power demand on two occasions in March last year and October this year, the state power utility is now geared to meet electricity demands to the tune of 28,000 MW in the state in the next six months.
“Despite having the second highest consumer base
(2.4 crore) in Asia, now there is no load-shedding in the state and we have made ample arrangements to cater to high power demands,” Pathak said.
On March 23, 2017, the demand had touched 23,700 MW while on October 22 this year, it was 24,900 MW. Till 2014, the peak demand used to be around 18,000 MW.
“However, due to capacity addition, we have been able to generate additional electricity up to 3,300 MW (thermal, wind and solar). Also, Rs 11,000 crore worth investments have been made in the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) and another Rs 5,000 crore on HVDS. We have also been able to save on coal transportation costs and introduced a concept under which the Maharashtra State Electricity Generation Company can compete with private players in providing power at cheaper rates to rejuvenate its income,” he said.
He added that the power utility installed a centralised billing system last month, connecting with 1.40 crore consumers via their mobile phones.