VADODARA/ ANAND: In April last year, during his visit to Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had floated urged farmers to install solar pumps in their fields and sell the surplus solar energy that is generated to the grid, thereby increasing their own income.
On Sunday, when Modi will inaugurate Amul Dairy’s chocolate plant at Mogar near milk city Anand, he will also witness his wish turning into a reality.
Eleven farmers of Mujkuva village of Anklav taluka nearly 17 km away from Anand, have foregone the access that they had to subsidised conventional electricity and instead have started using solar energy to irrigate their farms. This will be through the Mujkuva Solar Pump Irrigators’ Cooperative Enterprise (SPICE) – India’s first grid-connected solar enterprise which Modi will launch on Sunday.
Farmers of Mujkuva village have formed the Mujkuva Saur Urja Utpadak Sahakari Mandali Limited with assistance from the Anand-headquartered National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) which had resolved to create a model after Modi’s call which he had given during the inauguration of Sumul Dairy’s cattlefeed plant on April 17, last year.
NDDB with assistance of the Rajasthan Electronics and Instruments Limited (REIL) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) have helped these farmers to create their own micro grid which enables them to sell the surplus solar energy produced in their fields to the state-owned power distribution company – the Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Limited (MGVCL).
“As PM will inaugurate our project, we will start selling surplus energy to the grid and become first grid connected farmers’ SPICE,” said Labhubhai Patel, secretary of the mandali which has started using solar energy since December last year.
With 150 kilo watt (KW) solar panels, these farmers have started using solar pumps with 10 to 15 horse power (HP) capacities within the periphery of 2 km in the village.
“Earlier, farmers like me used to spend anywhere between Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,700 per month on electricity bill. Now, while we don’t spend a single penny to irrigate our farmers, we will be also earning nearly Rs 6,000 per month by selling excess electricity to MGVCL with whom we have entered into a 25 years agreement,” said Patel, who himself owns six ‘vigha’ land where he has installed 15 HP solar pump.
“The biggest benefit of this project however is that we don’t have to spend sleepless nights waiting for electricity. As per the existing policy, we get conventional electricity during day for a week followed by eight hours during night in the next week. Now, we can irrigate our farms during the day time,” he said, adding that they have also started providing water to nearby farms.
It is worth mentioning here that while the centre has announced Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthan Mahabhiayan in the 2018-19 budget, Gujarat government too has announced Surshakti Kisan Yojana to promote this concept.