Power connections to farmers: Govt covers some ground, but miles to go
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But for farmers, it is still a long way to go. "With no perennial river in Saurashtra and dams hitting rock-bottom by December, farmers need electricity connections for pumping groundwater. Two lakh applications are still pending and the number is only going up," said Bhikha Patel, former chairman of Bhavnagar Agricultural Produce Market Corporation who has been running a campaign for years to get pending agricultural connections cleared. "Drastic steps are needed to clear the backlog once and for all," he said.
The massive backlog is a legacy of the past when the state faced huge power deficit. In 2000, its installed power generation capacity was only around 4000 MW.
However, the state saw a turnaround over the last decade, thanks to the entry of private players in the power sector. At present, installed thermal power capacity in Gujarat is around 18,962 MW, which includes coal, gas and diesel. Of this, state utilities control 5,481 MW while the private sector owns 10,648 MW. Central power utilities account for 2,833 MW.
According to Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Board, data industry accounts for close to 40 per cent of total electricity consumption, agriculture 22.65 per cent, domestic users 16 per cent and other users 10 per cent. Commercial users account for 7.52 per cent of consumption.