Pune: After demands of loan waiver, farmers in Maharashtra are seeking free electricity and waiver of the pending Rs 20,000 crore electricity dues. Shetkari Sanghatana and members of other farming community have called for non payment of electricity bills and are demanding free electricity.
Speaking on the issue, Shivajinana Nandkhile, a farmer from Daund, said that former chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had promised free electricity for farmers and same was assured by former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. “But after coming to power, farmers were asked to pay for electricity charges which was not fair. While the government has failed to provide minimum support price (MSP) to farmers, how does the government expect us to pay electricity bills?,” he added.
He also said that farmers are ready to pay the bill provided electricity is supplied for 24 hours. “We get eight hours of electricity and we demand electricity during night hours. We have to keep our family safe from robbers and leopards. Hence, we demand electricity at night,” added Nandkhile.
“We started the movement of non payment of electricity bills long back and we will continue to do so untill government looks for our demands,” Nandkhile added. Another farmer Yogesh Dahiya from Uttar Pradesh who was in the city for a national conference on agriculture said that the government bodies have failed to provide compensation to farmers after their lands were utilised by power generation companies.
“There are several rules which help farmers to get their compensation from power generation companies but farmers are being exploited. The Works of Licensees Rules, 2006 takes care of farmers’ compensation which talks about a licensee may carry out works on a land or building, place any electric supply line or other works with the prior consent of the owner or occupier of any building or land,” he added.
Section 3(2) talks about the compensation or annual rent, or of both, to be paid by the licensee to the owner or occupier,” he further added.
While this year, the government has frequently asked farmers to pay their pending electricity bills or their electric connection may be disconnected. Nandkhile said that power companies continue to disconnect electric supply to erring farmers. Recently, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said that government is looking at ways to provide cheaper electric supply to farmers through use of solar power. Fadnavis had recently said that each unit of electricity is generated at around Rs 6.50 and the cost will come down to Rs 3-3.25 when solar power is used. Farmers will be provided electricity at Rs 1.20, he had said.