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Maharashtra Farmers to Receive Solar-Powered Agricultural Feeders for Uninterrupted Day-Time Power Supply

The Maharashtra government has acknowledged a large-scale scheme to convert at least 30% of agricultural electricity feeders to solar energy by 2025. It was approved by the state cabinet led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Wednesday, a pet project of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Shivam Dwivedi
Maharashtra Farmers to Receive Solar-Powered Agricultural Feeders for Uninterrupted Day-Time Power Supply
Maharashtra Farmers to Receive Solar-Powered Agricultural Feeders for Uninterrupted Day-Time Power Supply

"Supplying electricity through solar agricultural feeders will not only ensure uninterrupted power supply during the day for farmers, but will also significantly reduce the cost of power," Fadnavis said after the cabinet meeting, speaking to media in the Mantralaya, the state headquarters.

"At the moment, the power we provide to farmers costs Rs 7 per unit, of which we recover only Rs 1.5 per unit from them, with the remainder treated as a subsidy." Solar power will cost around Rs 3-Rs 3.30. This will significantly cut the electrical subsidies we provide to farmers', said the deputy CM.

Since November 2014, when he was the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Fadnavis has advocated for solar energy to power farmers' day-to-day electricity needs. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attempted to implement the initiative in 2016 by installing solar agricultural pumps around the state, however the scheme received a lukewarm reaction.

Beneficiaries were to receive solar pumps at a heavily subsidized rate, paying only 5% of the entire cost of the pump under the state government scheme.

According to a Maharashtra government statement, the ambitious initiative to power agricultural feeders with solar energy will benefit 45 lakh consumers. Fadnavis also stated that the government will acquire private land within a five-kilometer radius of the agricultural feeder, as well as government land within a 5-10-kilometer radius.

He stated that the state government has agreed to lease the private lands for 30 years at a rent of Rs 1.25 lakh per year to the affected farmers.

"The rent will rise by 3% per year, and at the end of 30 years, we will return the land to the farmers," Fadnavis explained. "This will ensure that there is plenty of land available for the project, and there is also a lot of interest from investors."

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