Fadnavis government’s ambitious scheme which aimed at providing 10,000 solar pumps to farmers in the drought-hit region this year has received poor response from the farmers.
Only 4,000 farmers have shown interest in the solar pump scheme so far, MSEDCL sources told dna. Of these, over 1,000 applications have poured in during last 10 days when the government pulled up the district collectors for dismal response and had asked them to aggressively sell the scheme.
dna has in the December 25 edition had published that only 3,000 aspirants from across the state had come forward to take the pumps prompting the energy department to put pressure on district collectors to popularize the scheme and sensitise the farmers about the scheme to expedite the application process.
The department even roped in cheif electoral officer of Maharashtra Nitin Gadre, who also holds additional charge of MEDA. He has been tasked to monitor the scheme personally by coordinating with the district collectors of Vidarbha, Marathwada and western Maharashtra region, dna has learnt.
They have also been instructed to hold aggressive physical and media campaigns to popularise the scheme, organise field demonstration and sensitise farmers about the benefits of the scheme with also convincing them to apply for the solar pumps.
When asked, energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule claimed: “With Gadre coordinating with the district collectors, the application count has gone up to 12,000.”
The scheme is officially being handled by the MSEDCL also called Mahavitaran, which is a public sector company under the energy department. Investment of Rs25,000, which each farmer has to shell-out in order to get the subsidized pump (which otherwise costs Rs3.5-4Lakh), is believed to be major reason behind the lukewarm response.
“Around 85% cultivators in the state are marginal and dry-land farmers who are unable to pay for the pumps”, said sources.
The decisions to replace electric power pumps with solar ones is part of the endeavor to reduce the cross-subsidy burden of around Rs8,000 crore and thus lowering the power tariff for domestic, industrial and commercial sector users.