Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) has managed to release only 10,000 tubewell connections in the state in almost 10 months after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) allowed the state government to release 1.25 lakh pending connections.The farmers paid almost Rs 2 lakh each to the state government for a connection almost three years ago.Sources confirmed that despite a formal notification, only 10,000 connections have been completed till date while 5,000 more are in the pipeline. “There is no word from PSPCL officials as to when they will be able to complete the whole process despite the fact that the paddy season is just over a month away,” they said.A high-level meeting was held today at the PSPCL headquarters in Patiala. Members of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA), PSPCL Chief Managing Director KD Chaudhri and all chief engineers of the five zones attended the meeting. It was decided to ensure that farmers are not harassed over the release of tubewell connections.CIFA president Satnam Singh Behru claimed that marginal farmers have been told by PSPCL officials “to ensure that they get an approval from the local Akali halqa incharge” in this regard.
“The farmers have been waiting for three years. The processing is very slow and could take more than a year. That means that even next year, the farmers are not sure that they would get the connections before the start of the paddy season,” Behru said.Last year, the NGT directed “the state government to issue the necessary notification regarding the restriction of power supply to the tubewell — mentioning timings etc — within 30 days from the day of issuance of the order”. However, the process took almost six months to start.As per officials within the PSPCL, the release of 1.25 lakh tubewell connections would cost the government over Rs 550 crore as the power subsidy bill would swell. The power subsidy in the state went up from Rs 4,778 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 5,484 crore in 2015-16. As per an estimate, it will rise to Rs 6,000 crore by the next fiscal.At present, there are 12.76 lakh tubewell connections in the state. Around 1.25 lakh connections would be added by next year. This will increase power demand in the farm sector by 12 to 15 per cent.CMD PSPCL KD Chaudhri said they would complete the process of around 15,000 connections in the coming few weeks.