Kolhapur: The Mhaisal lift irrigation scheme, which lifts water from the Krishna river and distributes it for agricultural and drinking purposes in the rain-shadow regions of Sangli and Solapur districts, will now run on solar power.
The state irrigation department has selected the Mhaisal lift irrigation scheme to run on solar power on a pilot basis. For the same, the German Bank authorities, after visiting Mhaisal in Sangli district, have given a nod to make low-interest rate finance available to the state irrigation department.
Jayant Patil, the state irrigation minister, said, “If the scheme is run on solar power, it will help save over Rs 60 crore in power bills. Currently, we are facing a power shortage. Also, the farmers are reluctant to pay the bills for the water lifted and released into their farms. Once the irrigation scheme is run on solar power, the farmers will also benefit as it will help save power bills and ultimately, the farmers will have to pay less.”
The scheme lifts water in a phase-wise manner, up to a height of 600 meters. As many as 81,000 hectares of land is irrigated using the water lifted from the Krishna river. The water has reached the Mangalweda tehsil of Solapur district recently, through the open channels.
The scheme requires 90 megawatts of power every year to run, mainly during four months of the summer season. The sites to install solar panels have already been identified. Also, the possibility of setting up panels on the open channels is being evaluated to save space and avoid the evaporation of water from channels during summer.
A total of 200 megawatts of power will be generated from these solar panels. The German Bank has decided to pump in around Rs 1,100 crore for the ambitious project. Due to the scheme, many farmers from previously drought-prone areas have turned to cash crops and fruit crops.