Maharashtra government stays decision to order solar pumps for farmers

Taking cognisance of the Opposition's claim over procurement of solar pumps for drought-hit farmers, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has stayed their purchase and directed Energy Department officials to study Gujarat government's model of procurement in this regard.

Fadnavis has instructed Maharashtra Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule to send officials from the department to Gujarat to study their model of procurement of solar pumps and until then, put on hold an agreement with the company that as supposed to supply the pumps.

State government had earlier decided to distribute 10,000 solar pumps to farmers in the 18 drought-affected districts of Marathwada, Vidarbha and western Maharashtra region. "We had floated a global tender for the procurement of solar pumps in July 2015. As many as 68 companies had approached, Mahavitaran and Jain Irrigation System qualified to supply solar pumps to the state," Bawankule said.

Opposition leader in state council Dhananjay Munde during the Winter session of the state Legislature had claimed that the price of solar pumps in Gujarat are cheaper by over Rs 1 lakh as compared to what has been quoted by Jain Irrigation. "We have to pay 60 per cent amount once the pumps are installed in the farms, 1.5 per cent every quarter till the next five years and the remaining 10 per cent has to be payed at the end of contract period," Bawankule said referring to Munde's claim.

He added that Jain Irrigation has agreed to provide a service centre for every 500 solar pump beneficiaries and take responsibility of maintenance of solar panel and pumps. Munde, objecting to government's payment mode, claimed that, "In Gujarat, 5 HP pump costs at Rs 3.5 lakh, whereas Jain Irrigation has quoted the price as Rs 5.40 lakh.

According to the payment schedule, 60 per cent would mean the state will pay initial amount of Rs 3.24 lakh to the contractor." "Even if the state has to pay 100 per cent payment at the time of installation of pumps, it is affordable and cheap. On the other hand, Jain Irrigation will get additional 40 per cent profit from existing payment schedule," he said.

Taking serious cognisance opposition's claim, Fadnavis has stayed the procurement order and asked the Power Minister to study the Gujarat pattern. "The CM has asked to send officials to Gujarat and bring their bid documents. One of the director from Mahavitaran will visit Gujarat on Monday and the documents will be submitted to the CM. Later, he will take a final decision in the bid. Until then, we have stopped the signing of the agreement with Jain Irrigation," Bawankule said.

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