Buoyed by the success of solar water pumps in the first phase, the Rajasthan state government is set to roll out a number of pumps in next phase. With farmers able to save electricity and fuel (diesel) in as many as 14 districts, the state horticulture department will be distributing 3,000 solar water pumps across the state. “We are planning distribute the pumps by the end of the February. The department has already invited expressions of interest from solar pump set manufacturers. Around 12 manufacturers have been shortlisted to supply solar pump sets in rural areas,” a senior official said.
Officials claimed the pump will be given to the farmers at a lower price as compared to the earlier distribution. ” The 3HP solar power surface pump would cost Rs 4.25 lakh while the 3HP submersible solar pump with a maximum 75-metre head would cost around Rs 4.85 lakh. ” “Last time the same pump cost around Rs 5.70 lakh. However, prices have come down due to competition,” he added. Under the scheme farmers will get 86% subsidy on the cost of the pump, only having to pay the remaining 14%. Officials explained that solar pump sets are attached to the water source. The pump’s solar panel converts the solar energy into electrical power, which runs the motor to pump water. A 3HP solar water pump set saves approximately 15-20 units of power every day.
In 2008-2009, the state government had installed 14 pumps on an experimental basis. Later, in 2010-11, 36 pumps were distributed, followed by another 1,675 pumps this year. “So far, the farmers of Ganganagar have taken maximum advantage of the scheme as this district was water sufficient. Last time, 621 solar pumps were distrusted in Ganganagar,” the senior government official told TOI. “A farmer has to majorly fulfill three requirements for a solar pump subsidy – a storage source, a drip system and they should cultivate cash crops,” he added. In this phase, solar lights will also be attached with the solar pumps as it was seen to be a major requirement for farmers working in fields in the dark. Meanwhile, farmers already using the solar pumps have shown satisfaction with the results. Farmer Kulveer Singh of Ganganagar told TOI, “With the help of the pump, money spent on fuel consumption is saved. In one hour, 2.5 litres of diesel is required, and in a day a generator is run for at least 8 hours. The solar pump is very cost effective.”