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Greenpeace welcomes Centre's approval to launch rural solar scheme, KUSUM

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: February 20, 2019  | 19:42 IST

New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI) The Centre's decision to allocate Rs 46,000 crores towards the rural solar scheme KUSUM, aimed to provide farmers with advanced technology to generate power, has been welcomed by environment experts who said it was essential to achieve the country's 100 GW solar target by 2022. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Tuesday approved Rs 46,000 crore for KUSUM and rooftop solar schemes to promote adoption of solar power among farmers and residential sector. While KUSUM scheme for farmers has been allocated Rs 34,422 crore, rooftop solar programme would get Rs 11,814 crore. Some experts also said the allocation of funds to the KUSUM scheme will now enable farmers to become exporters of clean solar energy from importers of subsidized energy. Terming the scheme KUSUM (Kisan Urja Surksha Utthan Mahaabhiyan) as the game changer, environment NGO Greenpeace India said the scheme can help speed up India's energy transition, from expensive and climate destroying coal power towards cleaner and cheaper energy. "The new incentives for solar agricultural pumps and residential rooftop solar can be a game changer for the power generation and distribution sector, speeding up India’s energy transition away from expensive, polluting, climate destroying coal power towards cleaner and cheaper energy, and ensuring we meet our international solar commitments," Pujarini Sen, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace India, said. Sen said for the scheme to work, it's essential that distribution companies pay fair rates to farmers for the electricity they purchase from their solar arrays. "Loans should be easily available to farmers; and there must be state government-enforced mechanisms to ensure equipment quality and the technical competence of contractors for both rural & rooftop solar schemes. Now that money has been allocated, proper implementation is key to unlocking the scheme’s full benefits," she said. Under the scheme - KUSUM Yojna - which was announced by the Centre in February last year, farmers having barren or agriculturally unproductive land will be provided with financial assistance to set up solar power plants. "KUSUM can potentially revitalise discoms by converting farmers from importers of subsidized electricity to exporters of clean solar energy. This revolutionary idea can reduce if not progressively eliminate agricultural power subsidies. Such decentralized solar installations will create economic opportunities that come with steady electricity access”, said Akhilesh Magal, Head - Advisory, Gujarat Energy Research & Management Institute (GERMI). Greenpeace India, in a statement, said that it has been campaigning for the speedy implementation of the KUSUM scheme ever since its announcement in the 2018 budget. "In addition, a series of 'Rooftop Revolution' reports mapping the rooftop solar potential of various cities across India (Delhi, Patna, Hyderabad & Chennai), have been making the case for further budgetary support to residential rooftop solar for many years now. "Although the Finance Ministry had not released the funds promised in 2018 Budget, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs stepped in Tuesday and released Rs 46,000 crores till 2022 for not just KUSUM, but rooftop solar as well," the NGO said. PTI AG RCJ

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