Centre wants state to stop free power sop
Chandigarh: Having chided the Punjab Government repeatedly for giving Rs 7,700-crore free power to farmers, the Centre wants the state to end the freebie for all agricultural consumers and instead transfer the subsidy into the beneficiaries’ bank accounts.This was conveyed to a delegation of the state government, summoned by officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and the NITI Aayog, in New Delhi yesterday. Members of the Ramesh Chand Committee, formed by the Aayog, are learnt to have told Punjab that they propose to club all agricultural subsidies given by the Centre (on seeds, fertilisers, machinery, crop insurance) and the state government (power subsidy and crop loan waiver) so that the same can be given to the farmers through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).Representatives of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana had also been called for the meeting. It is proposed that the farmers will buy implements and seeds and pay for power, so that the subsidy can be deposited into their bank accounts.The DBT will ensure that only deserving farmers get the benefit. Sources said they informed the officials in Delhi that they had already started a pilot project of giving cashback on the power that farmers save while operating tubewell connections in six feeders of Fatehgarh Sahib, Nakodar, Mukerian and Jalandhar (involving 990 agricultural consumers).