Cauvery delta farmers are furious with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami for not fulfilling his election promise of giving them round-the-clock three-phase electricity in the run up to the polling for the 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
On February 12, during an election campaign in Tirupur, Palaniswami, once labelled as ‘Protector of Cauvery’ by the TN Governor, had said, “Amma’s government will provide 24-hour three-phase electricity for the pump sets used by farmers. I am happy to inform you that the demand placed by farmers will be fulfilled step-by-step.” This was to meant to start from April 1 and it was also meant to be free of cost. The initiative, which was widely welcomed by farmers back then was meant to benefit scores of farmers in the dry belts of the State, equipping them with better irrigation facilities.
Earlier, the farmers were getting three-phase electricity for pumps for about 12 hours in Cauvery delta districts, and for six hours in non-delta regions.
Tangedco is expected to incur an extra financial burden of ₹3,000 crores each year to be able to provide this three-phase power free of cost.
According to a senior Tangedco official the electoral promise has been met and they were providing three-phase power from April 1 onwards. “There is no shortage of power and we are providing three-phase power as promised from April 1 onwards. Except that power is not provided 24 hours as the overall demand is high during the peak hours between 6pm to 10pm. During that time electricity is not provided to farmers,” he said.
The official added, “There may be problems like the local transformer may not be able to take the extra load or that the cables are old. Other than these problems, we don’t see any other problem for farmers to get three-phase electricity.”
However, farmers in the Cauvery Delta disagree. They complained that their motors failed to function properly due to the low voltage. “When the voltage drops, motors create problems and we have to spend thousands of rupees to repair the motors,” said a farmer.
AKS Vijayan, DMK’s agriculture wing chief said that the Chief Minister had cheated the delta farmers by making this pledge. “We need the water to prepare for the Kuruvai season but farmers as well as the general public have not received enough water. The announcement was only to cheat the farmers and the public,” accused Vijayan.
Tangedco officials however denied any shortage and said that they were able to meet even the recent hike in demand. The overall demand for power in Tamil Nadu since the last week of March has shot up as urban residents have started to use air conditioners to beat the heat.
“We saw a record demand of 16,481 MW on March 26 and we were able to meet it. All complaints of power cuts in urban areas as well as rural areas are only due to local problems,” pointed out the Tangedco official.
On April 10, the TN state saw a record consumption of power. “The total consumption on that day touched 371.628 million units, which is a new record for the state. This shows Tangedco was able to meet demand,” added the official.