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Kerala rooftop solar project set to miss deadline

According to reports, the state government’s ambitious plan to set up 35,000 off-grid rooftop solar power units is set to miss the deadline, at least during the current fiscal.

The state government, which first announced its plan to set up 10,000 off-grid rooftop solar units in December 2012, announced in 2013 that 25,000 more such plants would be set up across the state during the 2013-14 financial year.

However, Agency for non-conventional energy and rural technology (ANERT) could so far install only around 6,600 rooftop solar power units. Moreover, the agency has so far transferred the subsidy to only 1,000 people who set up off-grid solar power units of 1 kW capacity.

According to power minister Aryadan Mohammed, the state government could not utilize Rs 13.93 crore set aside in the 2013-14 budget for providing subsidy to 25,000 households for setting up rooftop solar power units. In a written reply to a question, the minister said on Tuesday that the plan for setting up 25,000 off-grid solar power unit programme failed to take off as the central government refused to give grants for the programme since the target set for 2012 was not met by the state. Also, efforts to facilitate low-interest bank loans to beneficiaries failed to elicit any positive response from banks. In this context, the state government plans to release the state subsidy of Rs 39,000 to 3,600 applicants who have submitted applications for setting up solar plants, he added.

But, according to ANERT authorities, the agency had, in fact, planned to set up only 25,000 units during 2012-13 and 2013-14 period together. However, when the second phase plan was announced, it was wrongly stated that the second phase would alone cover 25,000 households, instead of the original plan of 15,000 additional plants.

“Of the 10,000 plants announced in 2012, we have, so far, installed 6,600 units. For this, beneficiaries are promised Rs 53,262 as central government subsidy and Rs 39,000 as state subsidy. Since the project is being rolled out through agencies empaneled by ANERT, the subsidy amount is released to the respective agencies only after they furnish work satisfaction certificate from the beneficiaries. As per this procedure, we have released the subsidy to only 1,000 agencies”, said M Jayaraju, director of ANERT.

Jayaraju said the agency, so far, received only Rs 5 crore as grant for subsidy. “We hope to complete the first milestone of 10,000 off-grid units before June. Once the target for 2012-13 is achieved, we would be able to get subsidy for more such units from the Centre”, he added. As per the scheme, devoid of central and state subsidy, an individual has to chip in Rs 95,000 on an average for setting up a 1 kW solar power unit.

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