Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal sought intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for restoration of subsidy on solar pumps for agriculture to 80 per cent. He urged the PM to direct the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in this regard.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Badal said that between 2000-01 and 2003-04, the Centre was providing subsidy for solar water pumps up to 80 per cent of the total cost and the state had installed a record 1,850 solar pumps. However, in 2004-05, the Centre reduced the subsidy to 30 per cent of the installation cost and remaining cost to be borne by the farmer, which was very high.
He added that Punjab had more than a million agriculture pump sets and the power requirement for this sector was almost 25 per cent of the total consumption in the state.
“The decentralised generation and utilisation 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 utilisation and sustainable development,” said Badal.
The average size of an agriculture pump set in Punjab requires about 5 KW capacity Solar Photovoltaic (SPV). Badal said farmers could also meet partial load of the farmhouse when there was no demand for irrigation. The approximate cost for this system was Rs 4.5 lakh and with the present level of 30 per cent subsidy, the farmer was unable to meet the balance 70 per cent cost, which was not viable for him.
“Optimum utilisation of solar energy will not only boost the usage of renewable but also lead to far more efficient use of precious ground water... This programme had huge potential through which solar energy could be harnessed in a decentralised manner for powering agricultural pumps,” Badal told the PM.
Badal had also taken up this issue with New Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, when he had called on him a few days ago.