The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tariff burden on Gujarat farmers

Ahmedabad, April 5: Farmers of Gujarat will now have to pay 300 per cent higher power tariff, with the state government deciding to increase the tariff for the agriculture sector.

The monthly subsidy of Rs 55 that the government has been paying to the Gujarat Electricity Board to share the burden on farmers because of the higher tariff has also been slashed.

However, the government has deferred by three years its plan to instal meters on agricultural connections.

Farmers who now pay Rs 350 per horsepower to 7.5 hp and Rs 500 beyond 7.5 hp will from this month have to pay at a flat rate of Rs 1,722 per horsepower annually, irrespective of the electricity consumed.

The decision, which is bound to make the Narendra Modi government unpopular, comes two and-a-half years after the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) recommended an increase in tariff, as well as the installation of meters. “The GERC told us to bring down the subsidy and implement the hp-based tariff it had announced. We have to abide by it,” said energy minister Saurabh Patel.

The Congress has threatened to launch an agitation against the government’s “unpopular move”. Gujarat Pradesh Congress chief Shankersinh Vaghela accused the ruling BJP of “cheating” the people by hiking power tariffs for the farm sector, though farmers were getting less than six hours of power supply. The BJP in its election manifesto had promised to provide 16-hour uninterrupted power supply, the Congress leader said.

Vaghela alleged that the government had decided to hike the power tariff “under pressure” from the Asian Development Bank, which had sanctioned a loan to the Gujarat government only on the condition that it would instal meters on agricultural connections. The state government had made such a commitment to the bank four years ago and was going to fulfil it now.

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