Withdraw free power to big Punjab farmers: Panel
Chandigarh: The Punjab State Farmers’ and Farm Workers’ Commission wants free electricity to big farmers to go and power subsidy rationalised to reduce the unsustainable use of groundwater. “Power subsidy will be strictly restricted to non-income tax payee farmers,” it has suggested in its draft ‘Punjab State Farmers’ Policy’. It says that to begin with, a flat rate of Rs 100/hp/per month be charged from farmers owning 4 hectares (9.88 acres of land) or more. “Subsequently, consider rationing the power subsidy to a financial cap.”Ajay Vir Jakhar, who heads the commission, says that stopping power subsidy to big farmers is one proposal that all farm unions agree to. The revenue generated, he says, can be used for the welfare of small and marginal farmers.Also, the government has been asked to explore the option of power subsidy via direct benefit transfer. Regarding free power to domestic consumers, the commission has proposed that this be confined to socially and economically backward sections in villages. The climbing power subsidy bill in the past few years has been a matter of concern for economists. Rapping the Punjab Government, a CAG report two months ago had pointed out that 99 per cent of the state subsidy in the past five years had gone into providing free power.