Power rates for farmers in poll-bound Gujarat, led by Narendra Modi, has grown at the highest pace across consumer categories over the past five years. Agricultural tariff in the state grew 47.2 per cent from 119.5 paise per unit in 2007-08 to 176.0 paise per unit in the last financial year (2011-12).
In comparison, rates in the domestic category grew 22.1 per cent, the commercial category by 17.3 per cent and industrial power rates by 16.1 per cent during the period, according to the Planning Commission.
This comes in the backdrop of a remark by Congress President Sonia Gandhi that Gujarat’s farmers do not get electricity, but to earn hefty profits, the government is selling electricity to other states. This is nothing but discrimination against farmers, Gandhi, currently campaigning in the state, said last week while criticising Modi’s economic policies.
The agricultural power rate growth was far ahead of the average of 18.1 per cent for all categories of electricity put together in the state, according to the Planning Commission’s Annual Report on the Working of State Power Utilities and Electricity Departments for 2011-12. But Gujarat is not the only state where agricultural rates have grown faster than other category consumers. The data shows a similar trend for other states.
It has grown 26 per cent in Bihar against the average of 26 per cent across categories, 28 per cent in Jharkhand against six per cent growth across categories and 182 per cent in Karnataka against 36 per cent across categories in the past five years.
For all Indian states put together, agricultural power rates have grown by 97.5 per cent in five years as compared to the national average tariff growth of 23.8 per cent across consumer categories.
Gujarat has an installed power generation capacity of more than 13,000 Mw.
The state sells 47,000 Million Units (MUs) of electricity annually, including 6,700 MUs to domestic consumers, 13,800 MUs to agricultural consumers and 18,900 MUs to industrial consumers. Agriculture accounts for 28 per cent of power sales but makes up 12 per cent of the total revenue.