Mumbai, (The Hindu): The Maharashtra government has appealed to farmers to pay at least 5,000 for each water pump as they are yet to pay power dues of 13,178 crore.
Farmer organisations, however, claimed that the court had already stayed recovery of dues since 2013 and they did not owe a single rupee to the government.
Despite waiving the interest of 9,712 crore, Power Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said on Tuesday that only 8 perc. of the recovery has been made. He said, “I appeal to farmers to come forward and pay their dues. The government is capable of taking drastic steps such as cutting down power supply to water pumps. We do not want to turn into an authoritarian regime.”
According to government sources, electricity supplied to water pumps is subsidised at 1.5 per unit. “This is a highly subsidised rate and we have also waived the interest. We appeal to farmers to come forward and the pay the bills.” Meanwhile, farmer organisations have said that the Minister must not attempt to commit contempt of the court. According to the 2010 petition filed in the High Court, the government was to pay power bills for 16 hours of the day while the farmer was to pay for eight hours.
Kalidas Aapet of Shetkari Sanghtana said, “In reality, farmers were never given electricity for 24 hours for agricultural pumps. We received electricity for six to eight hours only. How are we supposed to pay to the government in that case? The court had stayed the recovery of dues in 2013 itself.”
Mr. Aapet said the government should make such demands only after the court verdict. The court’s verdict was the reason why the government could not cut farmers’ dues from the online loan waiver scheme.
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