Chandigarh, 28 January – National Scheduled Castes Alliance has welcomed the move of the Captain Amrinder Govt to install electricity meters on the agriculture lands of the farmers to monitor their electricity usage and giving the subsidy to them through direct benefit transfer (DBT).

President of the Alliance, Paramjit Singh Kainth said “Free electricity to the rich landlord farmers should be immediately terminated.  According to a survey by CRRID, 13.50 lakh of tubewell connections of the farmers are being given free electricity, out of this 6.6% (approx 89212) farmers have less than 2.5 acres of land. 11.88% (approx 1,60,581) farmers have less than 5 acres of land. Just like this only approx 18% farmer who are actually small scale farmers and require the free electricity are enjoying the benefits, the rest big farmers (almost 82%) are enjoying benefits which should be terminated for them.”

He said “Most of the farmers who indulge in suicide or attempt to suicide are those who have less than 5 acres of land. Many of the big, rich leaders of the State and socio-religious personalities are utilising this loophole and enjoying the free electricity through their tube well connections on their vast lands.”

Recently, the struggling position of the PSPCL in economic context, CM Capt. Amrinder had appealed to the big farmers to leave the free electricity on their own retrospection but this scenario has been going on as it was earlier. According to the survey, more than Rs 4000 crore are being spent from the govt’s budget every year for the big farmers (approx 7 lakh 69 thousand tube well connections) with more than 10 acres of land. 

Kainth said “The rejection of the appeal made by the CM to the big farmers and other leaders who use the free electricity is a sign of the declining popularity of the govt and also a reality check on their side in terms of the power they wield over these landlords. In the name of small farmers and agriculture labour that have committed suicide in the past, these shameless landlords and big farmers are utilising the free electricity on their tube wells and also exploiting this scheme the most. We appeal to the government to order the Powercom to bring transparency to this issue and bring in public the exploitation of these big landlords and they should be held accountable to their exploitation.”

 He alleged that many of the leaders of Congress, Akali-Dal, BJP and even Aam Aadmi Party along with other parties who portray themselves as the well wishers of the State and its people are the ones who are exploiting the free electricity which is meant for small poor farmers.  Kainth said according to a survey by Punjab agriculture University, out of 6 districts in the time span of 15 years, out of all  the farmers who commit suicide (approx 14,000), 43% are those who have less than 2.5 acres of land and 30% who have between 2.5 acres and 5 acres of land.  

 Kainth appealed to the State Govt that the loan burden over the agriculture labourers should be waived off immediately and also should constitute a mechanism to keep a check and put on hold the exploitation of the schemes of the Govt used by rich that are really meant for the poor and helpless. He also urged the Govt to bring in public the findings of the committee formed in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha over issues of the farmers & agriculture labourers.

He said “the Govt should make a categorization of the farmers according to the land they hold and the free electricity should be provided according the size of their land holdings.”