Andhra farmers’ union demands free power scheme, not direct benefit transfers

Krishna (Andhra Pradesh) [India], September 25 : Members of the Andhra Pradesh Farmers Union on Friday staged a protest against the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) and demanded the old free power scheme in Krishna district,

The Farmers Union alleged that most farmers use current pump sets for agricultural activities and if meters will be set up for pump sets to measure the power consumed by them, the charges will be credited to the farmers’ account.

In case, power charges increase in future and the government fails to credit farmers’ accounts with the required amounts when power bills are due, the farmers may fall into debt and eventually lose their power connections which will lead to losses to the farmers and may result in suicides.

“There are 18 lakh power connections in the state. Most of the farmers use current pump sets for farming. To date, the state government is providing nine hours of free power. From now onwards, meters will be set up for pump sets to measure the power consumed, and will credit the farmers’ account. The current bills have to be paid for power from that account,” said K Gopal.

“In case power charges will be increased in future, the government is not giving assurance of increasing the amount to be credited in the farmers’ accounts. Further, if there is no money with the government and it won’t credit farmers’ accounts when power bills are due, power debt will cut the power connection. That will lead to losses to the farmers. That may lead to farmers’ suicides,” he added.

The farmers further said that majority of the agricultural practices are done by the tenant farmers and the DBT for free power scheme will affect them adversely.

“In Andhra Pradesh, 70 per cent of agriculture is done by the tenant farmers. The farmers will increase the tenant charges by adding the power tariffs. That will burden the tenant farmers by at least Rs 10,000 per acre. Thus the tenant farmers will collapse with the DBT for free power scheme,” said Syed Kasim.

“So we request the state government to respond positively towards the farmers’ problems and continue the free power scheme in its present form and quash the order intended for DBT for free power. We request the state government not to yield to the pressure by the central government for power reforms and save tenant farmers who are already facing many crises,” he added.

Along with K Gopal and Syed Kasim, local farmers also took part in the protest. During the protest, they held placards reading their demands. (ANI)

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