According to reports, the State Agriculture Department has proposed to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to take up a scheme in the budget to convert all the irrigation pumpsets in the State into solar-operated devices in a phased manner to conserve energy and also save the huge subsidy amount being given to them towards free power supply.
Presently all the 20 lakh IP sets in the State account for nearly 30 per cent of the State’s power consumption and also require a massive subsidy of about Rs. 4,500 crore a year as part of the government’s policy to supply free power to them.
The Department is of the view that the proposal to install solar panels for these IP sets would turn out to be a win-win option for both the government/Escoms and farmers, if implemented, because this would not only save power and subsidy amount, but also ensure continuance of free power to farmers.
Speaking to reporters after releasing Agri Doctors’ Diary-2013 brought out by the Karnataka Agriculture Graduate Officers’ Association in Bangalore on Friday, Agriculture Minister Umesh Katti said he had personally taken up the proposal with the Chief Minister.
Mr. Katti said a team of the state officials had studied the Andhra Pradesh example of converting IP sets into solar-operated devices. It would cost about Rs. 1 lakh for providing solar power for each hp (horse power) and solar pumps could be used to lift water from the depths ranging from 300 feet to 1,000 feet.
Mr. Katti said the Centre was providing a total subsidy of 86 per cent for these solar pumps. To begin with, the Agriculture Department had sought that a pilot project be taken up in four districts to introduce such solar pumps to farmers at a cost of Rs. 100 crore. Under the pilot project, the government itself would bear the entire cost of pumps. He said the Chief Minister had responded positively to such a request.
The districts of Belgaum, Shimoga and Kolar were expected to come under the pilot project while the fourth district was yet to be chosen.
The Minister said the proposal would help farmers to get eight hours of power during the day time.