By: Kruthi Gonwar
Uninterrupted power supply has been one mantra of all the political parties in their manifestos in this election and the previous ones. A total of nine-hour daily power supply for agriculture was promised in Andhra Pradesh by the Congress in 2009. But an RTI reply revealed a completely different side.
They said that hundreds of people in Telangana districts are losing their lives every year due to electric shocks and a majority of them are farmers. A total of 1,469 people died in five districts of Telangana including Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Adilabad and Khammam.
In six districts of Seemandhra, including, Krishna, Guntur, Ongole, Nellore, Kadapa and Chittoor, 834 farmers died.
With power being supplied to many rainfed areas at odd hours, this number also indicates a direct correlation with non-availability of canal irrigation in Telangana. Many farmers are dependent on borewells and groundwater for irrigation which run on electricity and operating tubewells at odd hours resulting in dangerous accidents.
However, deaths reported in Coastal Andhra region were relatively low as they have better access to canal water.
Nizamabad tops the table with 400 deaths between 2005 to 2012 and has 13.9 per cent sown area under canal irrigation, whereas Nellore has reported the lowest death of 42 which has 25.7 per cent sown ar-eas under canal irrigation.
Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, who filed the petition alo-ng with Dileep Konatham, sought to know the number of deaths due to electric shock in each of the five Discoms in undivided Andhra Pradesh state and the data was obtained from five Telangana districts and six Seemandhra districts.
Experts complained that power was supplied to most of them in odd hours resulting in these fatal accidents.
“In coastal Andhra region, which has better access to canal water, deaths due to electric shocks are fewer. At least now steps should be taken on a war footing to provide canal water wherever feasible. There must be power supply during the day time to reduce farmer deaths. The state government and APTransco should compensate all the victims appropriately,” said RTI activist Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu.
“All parties promise in their manifestos, but not many live up to their promises,” he added.
G.V. Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, said the power supply during the daytime is still a distant dream.
“There are two major reasons for this. One is that the power supply line is from the same line that supplies to other places. The requirements are not met and second, there is not enough production to supply to farmers. In many districts they receive power at midnight, which is not fair. We have a great source of solar energy and the government should invest in tapping solar energy in these areas that will help provide their share of power. Germany harvest 74 per cent of their total power through solar.”
He also said that irrigation to farmers is government’s support and in areas that have a proper canal system they are just charging cess from farmers.
Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle