Ashok Khode, a farmer from Khedgaon village of Dindori taluka, doesn’t have to fear about power disruptions anymore. He is now the proud owner of a solar charged 5-horsepower water pump, the first in the state provided under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) scheme.
“Our crops were badly hit by the errant power supply. We had to wake up in the middle of the night to switch on the supply to the motors to pump water to farms under pomegranate and grape cultivation. There was also the uncertainty given the unreliable electric supply from the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL). Now, such worries are over,” Khode said.
Khode is the first among 13 farmers to receive the solar-powered water pumps in the Nashik district. Altogether, 23 such pumps were sanctioned across the state for the first time.
The farmers do not have to worry about any financial burden as the MNRE’s subsidy will be given to the banks directly through the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard). The solar driver motor is being installed in Nashik district by Cleantech Synergy Pvt Ltd.
“Measures were taken to cut down the farmers’ burden by bringing in funds from various companies through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As per the scheme, the farmer has to pay Rs 2.76, along with an interest of Rs 12,000. The burden now comes to Rs 1.46 as CSR funds of Rs 1.3 lakh is being sourced,” Jalaj Patil the company director, said.
The scheme, floated in 2014, allows the farmer to pay Rs 4.8 lakh to fetch the solar-powered pump and wait till the banks receive the subsidy from the government. In November 2016, the scheme was renewed and a subsidy of Rs 2.16 lakh was paid (parked) with the bank. The banks then had to look out for marginal farmers who would pay Rs 2.64 lakh for the pumps within three months and then pass on the credit to the farmer.
“This has been a very effective scheme, where the banks are getting the money in advance. Farmers need not pay the full money in advance. The MNRE has sanctioned 23 solar pumps in the state, of which Nashik is the biggest beneficiary,” a senior MNRE official from New Delhi, said.
On the security aspect, the MNRE officer said that the solar panels are Radio-frequency identification (RFID)-tagged that will prevent its misuse anywhere. Secondly, the maintenance-free solar system, along with the pump is ensured for a year. After this, the responsibility is passed on to the farmer.
The official added that the state sponsored scheme does not allow the farmer to benefit if there is a power connection within a 500-metre radius of the beneficiary. He will also need to provide an affidavit that he will never be given an MSEDCL connection in the future.
“Khode got a standby power connection and can use it. But, he cannot connect the MNRE sponsored solar driven water pump to the main grid or even source power from it for any purpose,” the officer said.