YSR finetunes free-power policy

Hyderabad, Jan 25 | Updated: Jan 26 2005, 05:30am hrs
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy has at last yielded to pressures (including the World Banks) and has decided to make minimal changes in free power policy.

We are not flouting our poll promise. But to strengthen the distribution system marginal changes have been made to the policy, Dr Reddy told the media here on Tuesday presenting the new free-power policy.

The state cabinet has approved the policy (presumably without discussion) as the Chief Minister holding the power portfolio placed the policy papers.

Come April 1, about four lakh farmers - one lakh corporate and income-tax payees, one lakh big farmers from dry lands and two lakh farmers from ayakat (wet lands) areas - have to pay between Rs 0.20 paise per unit and Rs 2 per unit based on their status.

We are still going to offer free power to about 90% of the deserving farmers. The exercise will not have direct benefit to the government or the APTransco but strengthens the distribution system, Dr Reddy pointed out.

By excluding big and corporate farmers the government would save an estimated Rs 50-60 crore, which will be used to strengthen the distribution system, the chief minister said.

Dr Reddy stressed that the free power users and the agriculture power users have to discipline themselves by setting up power saving devices like capacitors, frictionless foot valves, HDPE or RPVC piping and ISI marked pump sets with in three years. We are also providing incentives for switching over to the power saving devices by reducing the power charges by over 50%, he said.

As per the new policy, farmers in dryland areas having up to three connections in the

name of their family will continue to get free power. Similarly, farmers holding 2.5 acres in wetland areas too will get power free of cost. However, farmers in both the areas must instal power saving devices excluding pipes before March 2006.

Under the modified policy, farmers other than the small & marginal farmers in dry and wetland areas will have to pay Rs 0.50 per unit. In those cases where meters have been fixed and for others, a flat rate equivalent to the tariff measures will be charged. But those who adhere to power saving norms, will end up paying only Rs 0.20 paise per unit or a flat rate equivalent to it.

The policy has specified the corporate farmers - companies owning farmland, private persons holding farmland, hobby farming, and persons having cultivable land and income tax assesses, will have to pay Rs 2 per unit in case they have not installed power saving devices and Rs 1 per unit otherwise.