When electricity is worth saving

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Karamjit Singh Rai, early final month, were given Rs 12,904 that became transferred to his financial institution account by means of the Punjab government. This wasn’t any loan waiver, but a cash subsidy is given for the use of much less strength and water for
irrigating his paddy crop harvested in mid-October.

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In May, just earlier than the paddy nursery sowing season, the 75-12 months-vintage farmer from Khusropur village in Jalandhar district were approached by way of Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) officials to avail of the state government’s ‘Paani Bachao Paisa Kamao’ (shop water, earn cash) scheme.

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“I turned into suspicious about their intentions first, but they controlled to steer me to put in a power meter on my 10-horsepower (HP) motor tube-nicely,” says Rai, who is also the number (headman) of his village. Under the scheme, he was entitled to a month-to-month energy intake of two,000 kilowatt-hours (@200 gadgets in keeping with HP) for 4 months from June 20 to October 20, overlaying the duration among transplanting and harvesting of paddy. The unique part about the scheme become now not this power is made to be had loose — which is beside the case in Punjab — however it genuinely providing to pay farmers within the occasion in their ingesting less than the allotted quota.

During the 4-month period, Rai fed on only 4,774 devices of strength, as according to the virtual meter reading, for watering the paddy on his seven-acre preserving. On his power “savings” of three,226 devices, he, thus, earned a subsidy of Rs 12,904 at a price of Rs 4 per unit. “In my six many years of farming, I haven’t seen a scheme that pays us for something appropriate that we are doing. As a farmer, I recognize that even though strength is given unfastened, it comes at a price. That price is of digging deeper for extracting groundwater, which ultimately falls only at the farmer,” he comments.

Surat Singh (76) from Sarwan village of Hoshiarpur district’s Mukerian tehsil, too, has acquired Rs 5,008 as electricity intake financial savings subsidy transferred at once to his account. “Many of my fellow farmers discouraged me, warning of massive power payments from installing meters. But I went ahead and am being rewarded,” feedback this 18-acre farmer who has two five-HP motor tube-wells, that are now both metered.

The correct factor about the scheme, according to him, is that farmers don’t lose despite the fact that they eat extra than 2 hundred gadgets consistent with HP, as power is both manners unfastened. “But in this case, I receive a commission for consuming much less. I am planning subsequent to install a sprinkler irrigation gadget, which could similarly lessen my strength and water consumption. It will, then, result in extra cash being transferred to my account,” he provides.

Paramjit Singh, a seven-acre farmer with a 7. Five-HP tube-properly connection in Kukar Pind village of Jalandhar district and tehsil has received Rs five,584 payment under the energy-financial savings incentive scheme. “Farmers don’t need free electricity. We wouldn’t mind paying at all if the charge of our produce is constantly based on the Swaminathan Commission formula of 1.Five-times actual production expenses. Farmers, furthermore, have an interest in saving water, because we’re making investment thousands of rupees in drilling deeper bores every 12 months,” he factors out.

The above 3 farmers are many of the 173 who enrolled for direct advantage transfer payments below the Punjab authorities ‘Paani Bachao Paisa Kamao’ scheme in the current kharif paddy season. Together, they stored around 1.75 lakh devices of power — and, thereby, water — and acquired payments totaling Rs 7 lakh. These farmers belong to 30 villages that are provided electricity through six feeders in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Fatehgarh Sahib districts.

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For the ongoing rabi wheat season, any other 40 have enrolled. The monthly quota for availing bills against energy financial savings for this season has been constant lower, at 50 gadgets in line with HP, as in opposition to 200 gadgets in kharif. The cause for it’s far that paddy is 4-5 times greater water-guzzling than wheat. “The truth that they may get Rs four for each unit stored in a large incentive. During the paddy season, we provided uninterrupted power from 8 AM to 4 PM to the farmers who had enrolled underneath the scheme. If more join, we can growth supply by means of some other two hours, with the self-assurance that they’ll nevertheless try and shop electricity usage,” A. Venu Prasad, chairman and dealing with a director of PSPCL, tells The Indian Express.

Punjab presently has a few 13.5 lakh tube-wells which are furnished strength via nearly 5,900 rural feeders. The annual consumption according to tube-well, having vehicles in most cases with electricity rankings between 7.5 and 12 HP, is reckoned at 8,000-nine,000 units. That discern is, but, best an estimate based on delivering from feeders and not at the point of intake. At an agricultural pump-set power tariff of Rs five.16 in keeping with the unit, fixed for 2018-19 and no longer charged to the farmer, the yearly value of unfastened energy in Punjab could exercise session to Rs five,500-6,300 crore.

The kingdom government’s electricity-financial savings incentive scheme has been designed in collaboration with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), a research center affiliated to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. J-PAL — alongside experts from the World Bank, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and the kingdom’s agriculture, irrigation and soil conservation departments — is likewise venture an in-depth look at of real electricity/water use by farmers and the way it might exchange as soon as they may be given a financial incentive to consume much less.

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“Nobody is aware of how plenty electricity our farmers are genuinely consuming now, and how much others are cashing in on the subsidy given in their call. That’s why we need metering inside the first region. Also, in lots of instances, tube-properly connections are inside the names of folks that are non-resident Indians or even not alive,” admits a PSPCL respectable.

“The current scheme can grow to be a sport-changer, in a country in which groundwater levels in many components are depleting by way of eighty-ninety cm every 12 months. With this reform, farmers may additionally start treating water as man or woman, no longer not unusual, assets that are worth ingesting handiest drop via drop,” notes Rajan Aggarwal, senior research engineer and head of PAU’s soil & water engineering branch.

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