It is not just agriculture but also allied activities – horticulture and fish/prawn culture – that will be eligible for free power supply.

Apart from the cultivation of food crops, vegetables, seeds, trees and other plants, the tariff revision order, issued by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) on Friday last, states that sericulture, floriculture, horticulture, mushroom cultivation, cattle farming, poultry/other bird farming and fish/prawn culture carried out as allied activities of agriculture will be construed as agricultural activities.

Unlike the previous tariff order issued in July 2010, the latest order mentions specifically that agriculture and allied activities have been brought under the tariff meant for the farm sector.

There is no rate payable by consumer, as the entire energy charges of Rs. 1,750 per horse power per annum will be absorbed by the State government.

This means that the government will provide Rs. 1,950 crore during 2012-2013 to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation towards the implementation of free power supply scheme for farm connections.

Out of 41,541 million units to be sold to low-tension consumers during the year, the category of agriculture accounts for 10,601 MU, representing 25.5 per cent.

Though agriculturists are, under the agriculture tariff system, permitted to use water pumped from wells and stored in overhead tanks for bona fide domestic purposes in farm houses, the latest order is silent on the distance of the location of the farm houses from the wells, except stating in general that the farm houses should be in close proximity from the wells.

However, the Commission's previous order had prescribed that the distance should not exceed 50 metres.

Explaining how the figure of energy to be sold to agriculturists during the year had been arrived at, the TNERC's new order, quoting the TANGEDCO's correspondence, states that the agricultural consumption is calculated every month based on the sample meter reading furnished by field officials.

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