Jaya starts pre-poll ‘power’ play
The Opposition Congress has criticised the move as violation of the poll code, but the CM said she took the decision as the farmers were facing distress due to drought
With Lok Sabha elections just a couple of months away, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha has extended the scheme of free power supply for agricultural pumpsets, hitherto confined to small and marginal farmers, to all farmers.
In a statement, Ms Jayalalitha has said the concession will come into effect from this financial year and will cost the ex-chequer an additional Rs 81 crore, taking the total to Rs 171 crore.
The concession, given in the form of reimbursement through money order, was introduced by the Government after the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission fixed in March last year a rate of 20 paise per unit for pumpsets with meters and Rs 250 per horse power per year for those that have not been metered yet.
Following this, the Government paid through MO Rs 1,000 to small farmers having three HP pumpsets (Rs 250 in excess of Rs 750 they have to pay to the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board) and Rs 1,250 to medium farmers owning five HP pumpsets.
Ms Jayalalitha said the scheme has now been extended to all farmers. In other words, those having pumpsets of more than five HP will also get Rs 1,250 a year.
She said the concessions, now confined to eight lakh farmers, would be available to over 15 lakh farmers depending on pumpset irrigation.
She said the concession was being extended to all farmers following representations from them about the distress faced by them on account of severe drought all over the State.
Ms Jayalalitha said the TNEB was incurring a burden of Rs 2,500 crore a year as electricity was still being supplied at a subsidised rate to agricultural pumpsets.
Ms Jayalalitha’s announcement has been criticised by Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president G K Vasan and Tamil Nadu CPI State secretary R Nallakannu as a violation of the model code of conduct.
Ms Jayalalitha has hurried with the concession as any such freebie will have to be given before the election schedule is announced and the model code of conduct comes into effect. The Opposition, however, holds her guilty of violation of the spirit of the code.