State Agriculture Department is set to replace brown energy – energy obtained from traditional resources – as energy sources for shallow tube wells (STWs) with solar power.
As of now the energy sources for STWs in the State are electricity and diesel, which are considered too costly for farmers. Departmental sources claim that the drive is in motion in some districts in upper and central Assam. “To make the mission a success, some engineers were sent to Rajasthan to get their skill on the mission honed. The engineers are back to the State. They’re carrying out the drive. To begin with, our target is to install 10,000 solar-powered STWs in the State. We’re going to provide 85 per cent subsidy for solar panels and 50 per cent subsidy for pump sets. The cost of each STW is going to be as high as Rs 2-3 lakh,” the sources said.
When asked if that would not be too costly for the farmers to meet, the sources said: “This is a one-time investment. And it is much less than the cost they have to incur for electricity and diesel. Moreover, the farmers don’t use STWs for shali paddy. They use them for winter crops only. The scheme will come under NABARD’s Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF). It’ll be implemented by the State Agriculture Department. It’ll be digitized as everything has to be updated in farmers’ portal. We’ve already received 1,000 applications from farmers. A solar-powered STW covers two hectares of arable land. The one-time investment makes farmers not to invest any amount for 15 years.”
When asked on the problem of theft of solar-powered STWs as was seen earlier in the State, the officials said: “The yield of the system will be so profitable for people, including them, that even thieves will have to think twice before stealing such a device.”