Now farmers have to clear their dues by November 15.
Mumbai: In the face of tremendous pressure from farmers and criticism from political parties, the Maharashtra government has extended the deadline for farmers to clear their pending electricity bills. Earlier, the state power ministry had issued November 7 as the deadline for paying pending electricity bills or else the electricity connection was to be disconnected.
But Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened on Wednesday and extended the deadline by one more week. Now farmers have to clear their dues by November 15.
A total of 41 lakh farmers have failed to pay their bills and the pending amount runs into `19,000 crore. Due to this huge amount, Maharashtra electricity board’s distribution department has no funds with which to buy power from private players, leading to load shedding in the state.
The state government’s move to send notices to the farmers, warning them about disconnection if bills were not paid by November 7, politically backfired as farmers' organisations and political parties have criticized the decision. Therefore the chief minister intervened and extended the deadline by one more week till November 15.
Now farmers will have to pay pending bill for three months. If the bill amount is below `30,000 then they will be allowed to pay it in five parts. If the amount is higher than `30,000, then they can pay it in 10 parts.
"The electricity board needs money to buy power from the national grid. We do not have enough money to buy it. The amount of pending bills is so high that the board can’t sustain such huge pending for long. Therefore, we are requesting farmers to pay their bills. The government is not stringent. Concessions are revised now and we are sure that farmers will pay their bills,” said power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule.
Meanwhile farmers’ organisations are demanding re-connection of power to a few farmers. “The government has revised its decision. But there are many examples where the board has cut the connection. Those farmers must get electricity immediately,” said Dr Ajit Navale, convenor of the farmer’s core committee.