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Farmers to get free power in Punjab
September 07, 2005 03:49 IST
Reversing the recent decision limiting the benefit of 'energy bonus' on power bills to small and marginal farmers following criticism by various organisations, Punjab government on Tuesday announced free power to the agriculture sector to all the farmers who clear their bills payable till August 31.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that the free power would be supplied from September 1. "The bills would be issued so that the farmers know how much power they have consumed, but the amount payable would be nil," he added.
Singh said that the free power would put an additional burden of Rs 439 crore on the state exchequer as compared to Rs 250 crore earlier.
The Rs 439 crore burden would be in addition to the Rs 1,100 Crore given by the state so far to the Punjab State Electricity Board as subsidy for the agriculture sector which was supplied power at 60 paise per unit, he added.
Answering a question regarding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh having opposed free power to the agriculture sector, the chief minister said he had recently told the prime minister that the Congress government in Punjab was committed to giving free power to the farmers as a promise had been made before the 2002 assembly elections.
Bharti Kisan Union and other farmer's organisations had opposed the 'energy bonus' scheme while the main opposition Shiromani Akali Dal had described the scheme as a cruel joke on the farmers since the benefit was to come to only those owning up to five acre of land.