Chandigarh, July 16, 2013: The Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urged the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh seeking his personal intervention to direct the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government Of India (GoI), to review the program of Solar Pump for Agriculture and restore the subsidy component to the original 80% with a 10% contribution by the state and the balance 10% by the beneficiary.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Badal apprised him that during the period 2000-01 to 2003-04, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, GoI was providing subsidy for solar water pumps up to 80% of the total cost and Punjab then achieved the highest target by installing 1850 solar pumps. However, since 2004-05, the GoI has reduced the subsidy for solar pumps to 30% of the installation cost and the farmer has to meet the balance 70% cost, which was very high.
The Chief Minister further informed Dr. Manmohan Singh that Punjab had more than a million agriculture pump sets and the power requirement for this sector was almost 25% of the total consumption in Punjab. The decentralized generation and utilization of solar energy in the agriculture sector for water pumping was the best option to promote the use of renewable energy which has long term benefits in terms of energy utilization and sustainable development. The average size of an agriculture pump set in Punjab required about 5 KW capacity Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) array and the farmer would have the option to use DC motors or the existing AC motor by adding inverter.
Badal further pointed out that the farmer could also meet partial load of the farm house when there was no demand for irrigation. The approximate cost for this system was Rs.4.5 lac and with the present level of 30% subsidy, the farmer was unable to meet the balance 70% cost, which was more than Rs. 3 lac and hence it was not a viable preposition and discouraged him its installation. He also mentioned that the optimum utilisation of solar energy would not only boost the usage of renewable but also lead to far more efficient use of precious ground water adding he said this program had huge potential through which the solar energy could be harnessed in a decentralised manner for powering agricultural pumps.
It may be recalled that Badal had already taken up this issue with the Union New Renewable Energy Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah, when the latter called on the Chief Minister few days back.