Talking to DT Next, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association Vellore district president K Raja said, “The power charges even for low horsepower pumps will amount to Rs 2,000 per billing cycle. But farmers are in no position to pay the stiff charges that is anticipated.” According to him, the proposed move to meter pump sets and bill farmers with the assurance that the amount would be reimbursed into their bank accounts was cumbersome. “Tangedco’s stated objective that meters were only to check on the power consumed can be met by installing meters to get reading, but without charging us and taking away free power offered to us,” he added.
In a State-wide agitation on Sunday, farmers hoisted black flags atop their houses against the proposed move. Another issue with that the farmers are now grappling is Tangedco’s proposed move to charge farmers Rs 20,000 for each additional HP motor they propose to use.
Asked about this, Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangam youth wing general secretary R Subash said, “With groundwater levels depleting, farmers are forced to opt for higher HP motors. If a farmer who presently uses a 5-HP motor wants to double the horsepower, he has to pay Rs 1 lakh to Tangedco in addition to spending nearly Rs 40,000 to buy the bigger motor.”
With the government remaining silent on when the changes would be introduced, farmers fear that the day is not far off. “The announcement was made during the pandemic,” a farmer leader averred.
“Dwindling groundwater levels force farmers to increase their horsepower of the motors they use, and hence the entire farming community will definitely be affected,” added Raja.
Concerned that these proposed decisions would add further burden on them, many have thus started to look at alternative sources to power their agriculture motors.