The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) has initiated the supply of solar pumps to farmers in the state’s Vidarbha region under the Mukhyamantri Saur Krishi Pump Yojana (MSKY).
The Maharashtra government, under this program, will install 100,000 agricultural solar pumps for the farmers. The program anticipates 25,000 solar pumps in phase I, 50,000 in phase II, and another 25,000 in the third phase. Each phase has a targeted completion timeline of 18 months.
Some of the key benefits include daily free and uninterrupted power supply, no acquisition costs compared to diesel pump sets, and separation of irrigation from electricity subsidy. Under the program, farmers who have up to 5-acre farmland will get 3 HP DC solar pumping system, and farmers who have above 5-acre farmland will get 5 HP DC solar pumping system.
According to the official data, so far, only 50 solar pumps have been distributed with about 3,900 more farmers to get them soon. The program which is promoted on a first-cum-first-served basis has attractive sops for farmers like having to pay only 10% of the pump price, and discount of up to 50% for farmers belonging to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe.
Official data of MSEDCL states that about 38,624 farmers have applied for the solar farm pumps from across the eleven districts of Vidarbha region. Washim district submitted the highest number of applications at 7,500, while Wardha district had only 1,649. MSEDCL has approved 23,169 applications to date.
The government’s data also states that in Nagpur district out of 2,605 applications for solar farm pump sets, MSEDCL has approved 2,027 applications so far.
In December 2018, MSEDCL had issued a tender for 50,000 solar PV water pumping systems. MSEDCL had stated that it had floated two tenders for 25,000 and 50,000 solar PV pumps. Out of these 75,000 off-grid solar PV pumps, about 440 million units of power was expected to be generated on an annual basis.
In February 2019, with an eye on the distressed agricultural sector of the country, the union cabinet committee on economic affairs approved the launch of the Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) program for farmers, aimed at helping the farmers install solar pumps and grid-connected solar power projects. The program, in turn, would provide financial and water security to farmers and add a solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022.
In a recent order, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) stated that the power generated by off-grid solar water pumps would be counted towards meeting the renewable purchase obligation of MSEDCL.
Soumik is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Prior to joining Mercom, Soumik was a correspondent for UNI, New Delhi covering the Northeast region for seven years. He has also worked as an Asia Correspondent for Washington DC-based Hundred Reporters. He has contributed as a freelancer to several national and international digital publications with a focus on data-based investigative stories on environmental corruption, hydro power projects, energy transition and the circular economy. Soumik is an Economics graduate from Scottish Church College, Calcutta University.