No cut in power supply to farmers in drought areas

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday said power supply to farmers from the drought-prone areas of the state will not be cut off due to outstanding bills.

Chavan told the Legislative Assembly that the state government was considering making a financial provision to enable the state utility 'MahaVitaran' to meet conditions of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) which has fixed norms regarding limit of such bills.

"There is a GR (government regulation) with farmer-specific instructions that outstanding bills should not be the reason for snapping electricity connection. If it is done, the supply should be re-connected," he said replying to a debate on the issue of drought-like conditions prevailing in the state.

Chavan said his government was mulling over making payment to the power distribution companies in order to meet the conditions of the MERC.

Informing that he was in touch with the union agriculture minister on providing assistance to farmers facing crop losses due to drought-like conditions, the chief minister said, "One suggestion is that of providing aid per quintal which can be shared equally by the state and the centre, while another is a market intervention scheme".

"However, past experiences have not been good. One of these two suggestions would be implemented after thorough deliberations," he added.

Admitting that the drought-like situation was "serious", Chavan said he would meet the Opposition members during the ongoing Budget session on the issue, saying the government will extend helping hand to the distressed farmers.

He said new tankers were being brought and pressed into service in districts as per the needs. At present, 421 tankers are supplying drinking water to more than 400 villages and hamlets as on March 17.