If the government accepts the recommendation of the Punjab State Farmers Commission on withdrawing free electricity to medium and large farmers, it can save nearly Rs 3,300 crore of Rs 6,000 crore it doles out on power subsidy per year.
The commission, in its draft agricultural policy, has proposed that free electricity to big farmers should be withdrawn. To begin with, a flat rate of Rs 100/hp/per month be charged from farmers owning 4 hectares (9.88 acres) or more land.
According to data of operational landholdings (land which is used wholly or partly for agricultural production and is operated as one technical unit by one person alone or with others without regard to title, legal form, size or location) of Centre’s Agricultural Census 2010-11, there are more than 14 lakh tubewells in the state. Of these, 13 lakh are operated by electricity.
“Nearly 56.22 per cent connections are with those who own 10 acres or more land. And the remaining 43.78 per cent connections are with farmers who own less than 10 acres,” said Prof Ranjit Singh Ghuman, former head, Department of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala, who has done analysis of the free power scenario. Ghuman has been opposing the idea of free power to rich farmers for the past more than one decade.