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24x7 free power supply: Boon or bane?

24x7 free power supply: Boon or bane?
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Though the recent surveys stated that rise in consumption of electricity is an indication of development, however in Mahbubnagar, as per recent observation by some farmers, the rise in power consumption through round-the-clock free supply of power has led to drastic depletion of groundwater at several places in the district.

Mahbubnagar: Though the recent surveys stated that rise in consumption of electricity is an indication of development, however in Mahbubnagar, as per recent observation by some farmers, the rise in power consumption through round-the-clock free supply of power has led to drastic depletion of groundwater at several places in the district.

According to Bikshapathi, a Superintending Engineer from Mahbubnagar, as against a normal of 14.5 million units of power consumption per month, the demand for power has increased to an additional 8 million units for the district in the past two years. The SE said that the main reason for consumption was due to increased farming activity in the district. Unlike earlier, where the farming activity was nil, the power demand was very low. However, with the release of water to ponds and lakes through canals in many areas, the farmers have installed motors and pumping water from canals, lakes, ponds and tube wells and this has resulted in increased power consumption.

While on the positive side, power consumption is good and it indicates growth and development. On the negative side, it is directly impacting the groundwater sources which are falling to steep levels. "The main reason for increase in power consumption is free supply of 24-hour quality power. Particularly in the non-rainy season, stress on power is common. Many small and medium scale farmers are also taking up horticulture and other short term crops during winter and summer seasons and this has led to rise in power consumption," said the SE.

For instance, a small farmer from Chinnadarpally village of Mahbubnagar municipality is dependent on agriculture for his livelihood. Unlike earlier, where he used to go to other places for livelihood, this time, he stayed within his own village and decided to take up cultivation of horticulture crops in his 55 guntas land. "Power is provided free of cost and I have a borewell. And thanks to the government officials who have filled the village pond with water. All these led to rise in groundwater and I have taken up cultivation of vegetables for a living," said Krishnaiah of Chinnadarpally.

However, the farmer faced problems after a few days as the water from borewell fell very low. As the borewell started pouring less water due to drastic depletion of groundwater, he confined his vegetable cultivation to just five guntas. As per an estimate, increased drawing of groundwater has led to increased power consumption and with this, the groundwater levels have fallen steeply to 300 feet in some of the villages in the district.

In some places, many borewells have gone bone dry and this has left the farmers with no other option but to buy water with the help of tankers. "I never expected that the bore will go dry so soon. To save my vegetables, I have spent Rs 2,000 to buy water for three days," said Krishnaiah, lamenting that he was forced to spend half of his earnings on purchase of water.

If we look at the electricity consumption in the district, the normal electricity consumption in the district is 14.57 million units. However, the additional 8 million units of electricity are being consumed now in the district. The round-the-clock use of farm motors is also contributing to the increased use of electricity. Barring Wanaparthy district, the paddy crop sowed in the remaining four districts is gradually drying up. A farmer from Hanwada, Ramaiah, said that his one of the two borewells had gone dry and he had cultivated vegetables while noting that he was clueless as to what he should do about his vegetables. He said that he was now forced to use drip irrigation machines to cultivate tomatoes.

"With the rise in power consumption, we are taking all precautions to avoid any problem in the district. We are also carrying out repairs wherever there is a problem. We will make sure that there is no problem of electricity for lift irrigation schemes," said the SE.

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