Badal wants farm solar pumps subsidy restored

Chandigarh, July 16 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Tuesday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to restore the 80 percent subsidy on agriculture solar pumps to help farmers.

In a letter to the prime minister, Badal told him that between 2000-2004, the union new and renewable energy ministry was providing subsidy for solar water pumps up to 80 percent of the total cost.

Punjab, at that time, had achieved the highest target by installing 1,850 solar pumps, he said.

"However, since 2004-05, the central government has reduced the subsidy for solar pumps to 30 percent of the installation cost and the farmer has to meet the balance 70 percent cost, which was very high," Badal contended.

The approximate cost for the system was Rs.450,000 and with the present level of 30 percent subsidy, the farmer was unable to meet the balance 70 percent cost, which was more than Rs.300,000.

"Hence it is not a viable proposition and discouraged farmers from its installation," he added.

Badal sought the personal intervention of the prime minister to direct the ministry to review the programme of solar pumps for agriculture and restore the subsidy component to the original 80 percent with a 10 percent contribution by the state and the balance 10 percent by the beneficiary.

Badal said that Punjab had more than a million agriculture pump sets and the power requirement for this sector was almost 25 percent of the total consumption in Punjab.

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