Also, the farmers were apprehensive about the functioning of the pumps.
Mumbai: Almost two and a half years since the state government approved the installation of 10,000 solar pumps for farmers, only 2,450 solar pumps have been installed till March. The scheme — which is among the many ambitious projects that were announced by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis immediately after coming to power — has failed to get the desired response from farmers, as its solar pumps are costlier than those from neighbouring states. Also, the farmers were apprehensive about the functioning of the pumps. The government had also decided to install community solar pumps so that their maintenance would be easier, but this pilot project failed to take off.
“We have installed 2,450 solar pumps till March 30 this year. The process is a little slow, but the target will be achieved soon. The state government had already given its approval for the installation of 7,540 solar pumps, and permission for 2,460 others was given on Tuesday. Earlier, the solar pumps were mostly intended for farmer suicide-prone districts such as Akola, Amravati, Washim, Buldana, Yavatmal and Wardha. Now other districts have been included in the project,” an energy department official said.
Farmers will have to pay Rs 25,000 to get a cross subsidy for solar pumps, which would otherwise cost Rs 3.5-4 lakh. Sixty per cent of the pumps’ cost will be borne by Mahadiscom, 30 per cent by the Centre and five per cent by the state and end user. The official added that the cost is one of the reasons for the poor response.
The state government wants to replace 36,00,000 electricity pumps with solar pumps over the next few years. However, this will place a huge burden on the state exchequer, as solar pumps are cross-subsidised.