Karnataka farmers run up Rs.33 billion in power dues

August 27th, 2008 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Aug 27 (IANS) Karnataka farmers owe state-owned electricity supply companies a staggering Rs.33.46 billion and the government wants them to pay up to get free power supply for their irrigation pumpsets of up to 10 horse power capacity, a minister said Wednesday.”Farmers in the state owe Rs.26.82 billion and another Rs.6.64 billion in interest on it to the six electricity supply companies,” said Rural Development Minister Shobha Karandlaje, who is also the cabinet spokesperson.

“The government is ready to write off the interest on the dues if the farmers paid the principal in eight instalments over a period of two years,” she told reporters after a cabinet meeting that decided on several conditions for farmers to get free power supply.

Only those farmers who pay the dues will get free power supply. These farmers should also agree to install metres to monitor power consumption, Karandlaje said.

As a sop to farmers who are opposed to installing the metres, the cabinet decided that the government would bear the metre installation cost, she said.

Free power supply to farmers with irrigation pumpsets of up to 10 HP (horse power) capacity was one of the election promises of the Bharatiya Janata Party that came to power in Karnataka for the first time in May this year.

The cabinet decided to exclude from the free power supply scheme farmers who pay income tax, professional tax and those employed in the state and central governments, state-aided institutions, boards and corporations.

Karandlaje said the free power scheme will benefit 1.6 million farmers.

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