ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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To Free or Not to Free Power

That the promise of "free power" to agriculture wins elections was demonstrated in the 2004 elections to Parliament and assemblies (Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra). There is a need to understand why farmers are demanding quality power and yet not willing to pay for it. This paper, by three pumpset farmers from Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, is an exploration in this direction. It explores the spread of pumpset irrigation across the country and the reasons for the farmersâ?? refusal to pay for the power they are consuming: a deliberate neglect of surface irrigation by planners and decision-makers, disparity vis-a-vis canal farmers, increasing input costs and declining incomes. The authors are, however, worried that the present trend in power consumption in agriculture (already covering 58 per cent of irrigated area) is ecologically unsustainable and ruinous to farmers, power utilities and the economy as a whole. A series of measures are suggested to overcome the crisis situation.

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