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PM-KUSUM scheme expansion a boost for agri sector, job prospects: Renewable energy players

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 01-02-2020 20:45 IST | Created: 01-02-2020 20:45 IST
PM-KUSUM scheme expansion a boost for agri sector, job prospects: Renewable energy players

Experts from the energy industry lauded the governments' decision on expanding the PM-KUSUM scheme and a proposal to allocate about Rs 22,000 crore to power and renewable energy sector in 2020-21, saying the step will help generate employment opportunities and give a boost to the agriculture sector. While presenting the budget for 2020-21, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday announced expansion of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) Scheme under which 20 lakh farmers would be provided funds to set up standalone solar pumps.

While presenting the budget for 2020-21, the minister said that farmers would be provided funds to set up grid-connected 15 lakh solar pumps. In her budget speech, she also proposed an outlay of Rs 22,000 crore for power and renewable energy sector for 2020-21.

Imaan Javan, the director of operations at Suntuity Renewable Energy India, "We welcome the decision which reflects the union government's commitment and concern for renewable energy generation. One of the heartening features of the Union budget is its provision for the use of renewable energy sector of Rs 22,000 crore." Sitharaman deserves praise for this innovative measure which will widen the scope of the PM-KUSUM scheme and enable farmers to set up grid-connected solar power generation capacity on barren land and renewable energy sector as a way to address pollution and climate change, poverty and give the farmers their livelihood."

The industry hope the measures will give boost to the agriculture sector, and help generate employment as well in rural India, he said. Nikunj Ghodawat, Chief Financial Officer, CleanMax opines for the renewable energy sector, the extension of the 15 per cent and 22 per cent tax rate to the new and existing power generation companies, which was earlier only earmarked for the manufacturing sector, is a welcome move.

The new personal income tax structure should help to increase liquidity at the hands of the individuals, which will have a trickle-down effect to boost demand and consumption across multiple sectors, he said. Anas Rahman, Programme Associate, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), said the announcement of the expansion of the PM-KUSUM scheme is a very positive move as it can significantly benefit the Indian farmer.

"However, the government must address certain concerns before scaling up the scheme. The current demand-based allocation of off-grid pumps among the states does not incentivise states to better target and address the inequity in irrigation access for small and marginal land farmers," Rahman said. Anil Chaudhry, Zone President and Managing Director, Schneider Electric India, said the Budget has affirmed its commitment to clean energy with a proposal to allocate Rs 22,000 crore for the renewable sector.

The plan to provide standalone solar powered pumps to 20 lakh farmers, allows farmers to generate solar power and set up large solar power capacity along the rail tracks will encourage the use of clean and renewable energy. "Further, the decision to extend concessional corporate tax rate of 15 per cent to new power generating companies engaged will give a major boost to the renewable sector," Chaudhry said.

Additionally, the focus on ensuring smart metering replacing conventional energy meters by prepaid smart meters in the states and UTs over the next 3 years will prove to be a positive step in addressing the financial stress of DISCOMs, he added. Anish De, Partner and leader for Energy and Natural Resources practice at KPMG India, said, "Big push for solar power for farming and for fallow lands by extending the Kusum scheme. This could potentially result in 10-15 GW of new capacity creation if it materializes. This will be a big push for framer’s income, but will in turn require lesser demand for grid scale power, targets for which then should be adjusted downwards."

Somesh Kumar, National Leader, Power and Utilities, EY India, said, "The budget for power sector is quite progressive. The overall outlay of 22,000 crores as well mass measures like replacement of meters with prepaid meters and freedom to choose suppliers, could bring in much needed reforms in the distribution sector reducing losses and improving customer satisfaction. Further, closure of polluting plants can go a long away in reducing carbon footprint. The success will lie in the implementation of these measures which should be taken up the in the right earnest by the States." PTI ABI MKJ



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