Punjab farmers are not inclined towards installing solar water pumps for irrigation, despite a subsidy of 30 per cent offered by the new and renewable energy ministry (MNRE). According to the government data, only 1,955 solar power water pumps were installed by farmers in the state during 2000-2015.
In Punjab, about 70 per cent of the total net irrigated area is being irrigated by tube wells.
On an average, a two-HP solar powered pumps costs about Rs 2.8 lakh while an electric power-operated pump costs Rs 35,000. Despite, the 30 per cent subsidy offered by the Centre, the cost of acquiring a new solar water pump is very high, compared with electric power-operated pumps.
Speaking to Business Standard, a senior official in the state government said, "Punjab had taken lead in installation of solar irrigation pumps in the state during 2000-01 to 2003-04 by installing 1,850 solar water pumps, as the MNRE was offering a subsidy of 80 per cent, while the subsidy offered by the state was 10 per cent and the remaining 10 per cent was contributed by farmers."
He added, "This subsidy was reduced to 30 per cent later on which acted as deterrent to the farmers, so not even a single pump was installed between 2004-2013. Aimed at promoting renewable and clean energy, in 2013-14, the state government offered a subsidy of 40 per cent in addition to 30 per cent by the Union government, which led to installation of 105 pumps in the financial year."
The state government decided to provide Rs 1 lakh subsidy on installation of 500 solar irrigation pump sets in the state during 2013-14 and a special fund of Rs 5 crore was earmarked for it. However, against the target of 500 solar irrigation pumps, only 105 were installed.
Agriculturists suggested the state government should also offer subsidy as it did in the past to promote solar pumps.