Power connections to farmers: Govt covers some ground, but miles to go
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Of the 1 lakh new connections promised in financial year 2012-13, it has sanctioned 63,971 so far.
Even as pending applications for agricultural electricity connections are piling up, the state government has failed to keep its promise of providing at least 1 lakh such connections in the financial year of 2012-13.
The power-surplus state has been able to provide only 63,971 new connections so far in the current financial year.
Gujarat has around 18,900 MW of installed power generation capacity and it sells surplus power to other states, but the state also has around 4.6 lakh pending applications seeking electricity connections in the farm sector.
In fact, there are farmers who have been waiting for 17 years now for power connections. In the financial year 2012-2013, the state government had set target of clearing 1 lakh pending applications in agriculture sector at a total cost of over Rs 1,700 crore.
So far, Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL), which has four subsidiaries namely Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Limited (PGVCL), Central Gujarat Vij Company Limited (CGVCL), Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Limited (UGVCL) and Daxin Gujarat Vij Company Limited (DGVCL), has provided 63,971 connections.
The maximum number of connections (48,435) was sanctioned by PGVCL, which also had the maximum number of pending applications (2.5 lakh). PGVCL covers eight districts in the Saurashtra-Kutch region, which despite being drought-prone is the cotton and groundnut hub for India.
Though agriculture in Gujarat has made remarkable progress in the last decade during which it posted double-digit growth, a truant monsoon last year left Saurashtra-Kutch high and dry.
"Agricultural electricity connections are one of our priorities and the department is committed to meeting all demands in the next two years. While over 63,000 connections were sanctioned these year, the efforts are on to strengthen resources and infrastructure," said a top official from the energy department.