India

Next on farmers' list: 'Electricity bill waivers, or more protests'

28 Jun 2017 | By Gogona Saikia

Farmers are preparing for a second round of protests, this time to waive off their electricity bills.

According to the Maharashtra electricity board, the state's farmers owe them Rs. 17,000cr.

Farmers complain they have to pay "hefty bills" despite not having regular electricity supply.

Loan waivers also won't be enough as now they will have to raise money to pay electricity bills, they say.

In context: The second round of farmers' protests

Recent PastA brief look at the recent farmers' protest

Farmers in different states recently launched protests for loan waivers and more prices for their crops. At least seven farmers died in Mandsaur (MP) in police firing during the agitation, which intensified the movement and turned it violent in some places.

Eventually, Uttar Pradesh announced loan waivers worth up to Rs. 36,500cr. Soon after, Punjab and Maharashtra followed suit.

28 Jun 2017Next on farmers' list: 'Electricity bill waivers, or more protests'

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StatusPay up or lose power: Maharashtra government warned farmers earlier

In March, Energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said farmers of the state owe the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd Rs. 17,000cr.

Farmers get electricity at subsidized rates, which they use mainly for pumps to draw water from wells. However, droughts in the last couple of years have hit production severely.

An MSECL officials said waiving off their bills would be "a major disaster".

IssuesBut farmers are burdened by drought and other hardships

"There has been a drought for the last three years. We hardly used power to pump out water…we used electricity for four months in a year. Despite this, we have been paying the power bills," said a farmer, demanding the government waive off the bills.

"Writing off loans will not end farmers' problems. The resentment is still there," said activist Nanansaheb Patil.

The next round of protests

About 200 farmers' organizations from across the country will take off a protest rally from Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, and reach Maharashtra on July 9.