At a time when consumers face acute scarcity of power, a section of farmers in Mudukulathur taluk and nearby areas indulge in irrigating chilli fields of other farmers with the free power extended to them by the State government.
According to information, the practice is prevalent for quite sometime in almost all rural parts of the district, where a large number of farmers enjoy free electricity for agriculture. The illegal practice is stated to be prevalent in almost all regions of Kadaladi, Mudukulathur, Parmakudi and other blocks.
It is said that a well, which has been connected with a pump set, irrigates at least 10 acres of land situated around it. Farmers, apart from irrigating their own fields, operate the motor continuously for irrigating the land holdings of other farmers. The pump set is kept idle only when there is no power supply.
Farmers, who have no power connections, say that they have no other option except to buy water for irrigating their fields to save crops. They said that Rs.25 was being charged for an hour of water supply.
While some farmers carry water to their fields by hose others get by open canal. Depending upon the requirement, they buy water. There are farmers who irrigate the fields for six or seven hours at a stretch.
“This (buying water from other farmers, who have free power connections) is not new. Though we pay Rs.25 for per hour of water supply, it helps us during dry period. We will be badly affected if we don't have the option,” says a farmer of Saveriar Samudram near Mudukulathur.
Lights and bulbs in motor rooms invariably burn in daytime also.
Some farmers said they would not switch off the switches to find out the availability of power supply from their houses.
Many farmers said even though they continuously used motors, the groundwater was not a problem to them, as sea was very closeby. The salinity of water was the only major problem to them. The menace could be stopped only when the government provided new connections to the wells for which a large number of applications were pending with the offices.