Decision to install meters to farm pump sets raises heat in AP
APEPDCL achieved 100% installation of meters in Srikakulam district as a part of pilot scheme
AP is firm in implementing the power reforms to avail additional borrowing limit. The Opposition parties and farmers' organisations allege that if smart meters are installed, it will provide AP to borrow Rs 20,000 - 25,000 cr additionally by raising the borrowing limit from 3-5%
Visakhapatnam: Farmers across Andhra Pradesh are seething with anger with the decision of the State Government to install meters to all the agriculture pump sets with apprehensentions that it might lead to removal of free power.
Concerned over propaganda launched by the Opposition parties and farmers' organisations over its fallout, the YSRCP Government has also decided to launch a counter-campaign to inform the farmers that their move is aimed at quality power supply and they have no plans at all to curtail duration of supply and withdraw the free benefit.
"The initiative being taken up at the behest of the Central government's directive to the States to implement power reforms will benefit the farmers. We want to supply nine-hour day-time supply as well as quality power," Energy Minister Pedireddy Ramachandra Reddy.
While Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao, who has turned a bitter critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has decided not to install power meters, his AP counterpart YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has instructed the officials to complete fixing meters on all types of power consumers soon.
AP is one of the first States to launch a pilot scheme in Srikakulam. "We have already achieved 100 per cent installation of meters in Srikakulam district. We have fixed 26,000 meters with the consent of the farmers in Srikakulam under the limits of Andhra Pradesh Eastern Power Distribution Company Ltd (APEPDCL)," an official told Bizz Buzz on Monday.
When contacted, Srikakulam AP Rythu Sangham President K Mohan Rao said AP is firm in implementing the power reforms to avail additional borrowing limit. The Opposition parties and farmers' organisations allege that if smart meters are installed, it will provide AP to borrow Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 25,000 crore additionally by raising the borrowing limit from 3-5 per cent.
However, the officials refute the charges saying that they want to track supply fluctuations. The government says ultimately, the farmers will not be burdened with payment of bills generated in their names promising reimbursement of the amount. The government is also taking up awareness campaigns through Rythu Bharosa Kendras and DISCOMs.
TDP State president and former Minister K Atchannaidu said despite the attempts by the government to mislead the farmers on the meters issue, they will not keep mum over the move. "We will go to any extent to prevent forcible collection of power bills at any given point of time from the farmers," he stated.