Thrust to use solar pumps for irrigation
Kolkata: The state Water Resources Investigation and Development department has laid special emphasis on using solar pumps wherever feasible to supply irrigation water to agricultural land. Apart from being environment friendly, the solar installation has been able to reduce the electricity bill of the beneficiary farmer to a bare minimum.
"We have already installed 1000 solar pumps spanning across districts like Bankura, Birbhum, Jhargram, Purulia, North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas, West Midnapore, and Burdwan in south Bengal and Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri in North Bengal in a period of less than four years. We have also started installing portable solar pumping systems in South 24 Paraganas and the western districts. 100 such pumps have already been provided," said a senior official of the department.
The beneficiaries can carry these portable pumps easily from one land to another. It also can be carried to their respective residences after finishing work thereby negating chances of theft.
Under the West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation Project (WBADMIP) the maximum solar schemes have been extended to Jalpaiguri district where a cultivable command area of 1780 hectares and irrigation potential of 3560 hectares have been achieved. Burdwan is second in the list with irrigation potential of 1236 hectares land being achieved while Jhargram is third where irrigation potential of 591 hectares have been achieved.
"The operational cost of running pump sets through electricity is reasonably high and there have been instances when small and marginal farmers had to suffer due to their inability to cough up the electricity bill. So, the government decided to push for solar pumps. The installation cost is high but the state government has been bearing the expense for benefitting the farmers," said the official.
The supplier of solar pumps offer a five year warranty period and any sort of problem within this time period is addressed free of cost by the supplying agency.
The official said that the department examines the potentiality of the land before installing solar schemes there. It takes record of the utilisation of land and the crop production for the last three to four years before going for solar projects.
The installation cost is usually less in the case of North Bengal where water availability is easier while in the laterite zones where water is scarce the installation cost is higher.
The solar installation, however, requires a comparatively larger area. So it is usually installed at an elevated place from the plot of cultivable land.