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Apr 17, 2013 at 12:34pm IST

Andhra Pradesh: Seven hours of free power to farmers a myth?

Hyderabad: In several districts Andhra Pradesh, the state government has not been able to keep its big promise of 7 hours of free power to farmers, pushing desperate farmers to take matters into their own hands, often with tragic consequences. Chief Minister Kiran Reddy's claim seems far fetched with Andhra Pradesh facing an acute power crisis.

CNN-IBN travelled to Medak, where seven hours of free power is a myth, claim villagers. Farmers like Komini have a healthy crop, but an erratic power supply means she cannot operate her borewells. She has lost 2 acres worth of maize due to lack of irrigation and cannot repay her debts.

"I have 5 acres of land but raised crop only in two acres fearing lack of power. Even that has gone waste. There is no power here. We don't know when they switch it on and switch it off. I am a widow. How should I pay back my loans now," asked Komini.

Several farmers spend the night on their fields to turn on their borewells as soon as power returns. Some have even been electrocuted by live wires in their desperation to use the few minutes of power they get. That is how 40-year-old Amrutha lost her husband Veeresham a year ago.

"He went to water the crop in darkness because that's when the power had come for a few minutes. But he died due to a high voltage shock. I have a crop, but I just can't get myself to go to the field again. I don't even send my sons because there are wires all over," Amrutha said.

The Medak district has the highest number of farmer suicides in Andhra Pradesh and crop failure due to power shortage is a big reason. The apathy of local officials often pushes farmers like Ramulu to fix power transmission lines and transformers themselves. Severe injuries like these are common among farmers here.

Farmer federations have told the state government that they are ready to pay for assured electricity, but in power deficient Andhra Pradesh, even that is not possible. If it's not lack of water, then it's the erratic power supply.

Farmers not just in Medak, but across Andhra Pradesh are struggling to get enough power supply for their borewells to ensure their crop does not wilt under the scorching summer sun. But with no respite in sight, farmers say they only hope a good monsoon will pull them out of their rising debts.