Jolted by the severe backlash from various sections, including farmers, the Andhra Pradesh government on Monday brought back the words free power into the agriculture energy supply scheme that will be implemented in a new format from the next financial year. The government issued an order naming the scheme as YSR Free Agriculture Power, changing it from Agriculture Electricity Cash Transfer Scheme as announced in the September 1 order.
In the fresh order, Energy Secretary Srikant Nagulapalli said the scheme would be started in Srikakulam district from this month (on a pilot basis). "Monthly DBT amount for Srikakulam district will be transferred by the government to the AP Eastern Power Distribution Company against the farmers' accounts, starting from September 2020, the Energy Secretary said.
The YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government decided to install smart meters to all agricultural power connections as part of the Centre-suggested reforms that it agreed to implement for a two per cent hike in FRBM Act borrowing limit. The hike in FRBM limit will entail an additional loan of about Rs 20,000 crore to the steeply debt-ridden state during the current fiscal.
The move, however, raked up a major controversy as all opposition parties opposed it, saying the governments main intention was the do away with free power to the farm sector. The government took pains to counter the opposition claims but that did not cut much ice, with doubts lingering over the real purpose of meter installation.
In this backdrop, the government gave a new name to the scheme with free power as the catchwords.