The Centre is pushing the states to adopt Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in disbursing electricity subsidy to farmers.
According to the proposal, all irrigation pumpsets must have meters and farmers must pay the electricity bill. If the State governments want to subsidise the farmers, they may directly transfer the bill amount to the beneficiary farmers' bank accounts.
Since the government proposes to introduce smart meters and eliminate human interference in billing, the bill will be sent to the farmers and electricity distribution companies directly every month. Soon after the farmers pay the bill, the state government concerned must reimburse the amount directly into the farmers bank accounts, said Union Power Minister R K Singh.
The electricity DBT will be on the same lines as LPG subsidy, which the beneficiary consumer gets directly in his bank account after purchasing the gas cylinder.
The Ministry of Power has been discussing this method with the states, which have expressed willingness to introduce the system, he said.
Since the Ministry is also going to amend the Electricity Act soon to make electricity distribution companies accountable for providing uninterrupted power, farmers can enjoy regular power supply. Discoms failing to provide adequate power to consumers will be fined, he said.
Discoms to benefit
Introducing DBT will not only check power theft, it will also help the electricity distribution companies (discoms) recover their dues promptly.
Due to financial mismanagement and non-payment of subsidy by the state governments on time, the discoms are steeped in debt amounting to more than Rs 4 lakh crore.
In some states, financial position of the discoms is so poor that they don't have money to purchase power from the electricity producing companies to supply consumers.