Farmers in parts of Maharashtra could get free power

Farmers in Vidarbha, Marathwada and some parts of western Maharashtra which are facing a drought-like situation could get free power from the state utility.

The Chief Minister, Mr Prithviraj Chavan, told the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday that the Government was thinking of making financial provisions so that farmers’ electricity dues to the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company get paid. He said this while participating in a discussion on the drought-like situation in the State.

Last monsoon, Maharashtra received erratic rainfall. The coastal areas had above-average rainfall, while interiors areas, especially in the rain shadow belt, got scanty rainfall. As a consequence, these areas are facing drought.

The State Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation, Mr Patangrao Kadam, said that on existing unpaid electricity bills the farmers could get a discount up to 33 per cent. Power connections, which have been disconnected due to non-payment of bills, will be restored.

Between July 2004 and May 2005, the State Government provided free power to all farmers in the State without any condition. This had to be discontinued due to the mounting debts of the Government and the plummeting water table.

Mr Chavan added that the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Shard Pawar, was in touch with him for providing assistance to the farmers. One of the plans is to provide aid, which can be shared by both the State and the Centre. Another is a market intervention scheme so that farmers get good rates for their produce. He said that soon one of the plans would be implemented after detailed discussions.
Source: BL

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