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Agriculture News: Maharashtra Government to Use Solar Power for Agriculture

To make agriculture and industries financially sustainable, the Maharashtra government is working on a draft proposal to segregate and shift agriculture feeders from coal-based power to solar energy.

Highly placed sources in the energy ministry said, “Power supply to farmers in Maharashtra is heavily subsidised at 85 paise per unit. As a result, Rs 8,000 crore financial burden incurred on subsidy given to farmers is partly recovered from industrial and domestic consumers. This leads to higher power rates for industrial sector as well as domestic consumers,” said highly placed sources in the energy ministry.

Through its policy reforms being worked out, it is felt the state government should completely segregate agriculture feeders from non-agriculture feeders both in terms of logistic and financial implications.

The package of Rs 8,000 crore which goes in subsidy can be invested in solar power. It would bring down cost of thermal energy as well as unburden the industrial sector, if sizeable 1.37 crore farmers shift from thermal power to solar energy.

However, farmers get power at 85 paise to Re 1 per unit and the average cost of power is Rs 5.50 per unit to Rs 6.50 per unit.

Whereas, industries have to shell out Rs 8.50 to Rs 9.50 per unit. The government reckons that the agriculture sector will have to be provided with an energy model that is cost effective and sustainable.

Maharashtra reeling under the fourth consecutive drought, as a result recovery from agriculture has been very low. “The process of shifting agriculture power to solar energy in a phased manner should be taken up keeping in mind the 15 to 20 years horizon.

Coal-based power is unlikely to come down if not substantially rise in next two decades,” suggested Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.