Punjab government on Sunday approved new Agriculture Power (AP) Tubewell policy and the state government will issue 25,000 tubewell connections to farmers of the state during 2013-14 under the new policy.
“The general category farmers will be allotted 15000 AP connections, priority categories 7500 besides 2500 to miscellaneous category. Further, under the general category 60 percent of the AP connections (9000) will be allotted to the applicants comprising small farmers having land holding up to 2.5 acre and without any tube well connection while 20 percent (3000) connections for marginal farmers having land holding of more than 2.5 acre and up to 5 acre while the remaining 20 percent (3000) connections for big farmers having land holding more than 5 acre,” said a Punjab government spokesperson while giving details of category wise breakup of 25000 AP connections to be released in a year.
The spokesperson said that the new policy was drafted to curb the alarming trend of over exploitation of the ground water and ensure its judicious use in agriculture sector. “Punjab’s Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday approved the Agriculture Power (AP) Tube Wells Policy stipulating guidelines for the release of electric connections for Agricultural pump sets in the state for the year 2013-14,” he said.
“Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission has mandated the state government to decide the number of Agricultural Pump sets (AP) connections to be released each year in the state for reasons of ecology, inadequate ground water potential, declining water table or any other reason. The new AP policy guidelines have been formulated in the backdrop of state government’s ambitious program of crop diversification besides popularizing Drip/Micro Irrigation amongst farmers especially the vegetable and fruit growers with a thrust on conservation of water,” said the spokesperson, adding that the state’s only available natural resource is becoming scarce due to ever depleting water table.
The reckless use of ground water has rendered 45 blocks in Punjab as over exploited blocks as revealed in the latest report of Central Ground water authority.
“To encourage the saving of ground water resources, tube well connections under Drip/Micro sprinkler system category will be given top most priority over all the other categories for the release of electricity connection. The guidelines of new AP connection policy also envisaged the ecological revival of Holy Bein as a priority category eligible for connection for de-watering of the pond water and using the same for irrigation of land of Panchayat or farmer of 103 villages identified under Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala districts. The Tube Well connections would be released in the name of gram panchayat under the gram panchayat priority and condition of minimum one acre land holding should not be applicable for release of such tube well connections,” added the spokesperson.
Punjab government official said that in order to clear the backlog of general category applications pending since long 50,000 additional connections under the ARTC scheme were proposed to be released on priority through outsourcing/departmentally in view of the financial constraints of PSPCL during 2011-12 as per guidelines approved by the state government.
The Connection against all the applications registered under this priority category could not be released during 2012-13 and as such the remaining connections would be released in the year 2013-14. Under the policy it would be incumbent on the part of state government to fix the target for the release of AP connections annually in the beginning of every year and in any case the total number of AP connections released by the PSPCL in a year would not exceed the target fixed by the state government.