Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday launched YSR Jalakala, a scheme to dig borewells free of cost for farmers, and bring an additional five lakh acres under cultivation though groundwater irrigation.

With this, the YSRC government has fulfilled another election promise made under Navaratnalu.

In the next four years, the government plans to spend Rs 2,340 crore on drilling two lakh borewells to benefit upland farmers, who are predominantly dependent on rains. 

Jagan also promised to set up motors free of cost for all small and marginal farmers, which will require an additional expenditure of Rs 1,600 crore.

“It was not in the manifesto, but seeing the problems faced by farmers, I am announcing this today. The government is prepared to bear the additional cost as it will benefit farmers at large,” the Chief Minister said, reiterating that the welfare of farmers is the government’s top priority.

YSR Jalakala will be implemented in 144 rural Assembly segments and 19 semi-urban constituencies — a total of 163 Assembly segments. Addressing farmers and officials via videoconference on Monday,

Jagan said, “I saw first-hand the problems faced by farmers during my Praja Sankalpa Yatra. I promised to stand by them and today I am keeping my promise.”

“All they need to do is apply online or through village secretaries with the help of volunteers. Once the hydrogeological and geophysical survey is conducted, the borewells will be sunk. The cost of the survey, sinking borewells, pipes, and casings and motors in case of small and marginal farmers will be borne by the government,” he said.

If the first borewell fails to yield water, or if the existing borewell becomes defunct, another borewell will be sunk at a different place under the scheme, he explained.

“In 2014, my father YS Rajasekhara Reddy introduced the free power scheme for farmers, and today, as his son, I am providing free borewells to them,” he said.

Elaborating on how much the government is spending on each farmer, Jagan said there are around 18 lakh pumpsets in the State.

On an average, if the motor of each 7.5 HP capacity pumpset consumes 45 units for nine hours, the government spends Rs 9,274 per month per motor at the rate of Rs 6.85 per unit.

“Free power has changed the lives of farmers, and today, free borewells will increase the acreage under cultivation, improve food security and prevent migration of farmers to an extent,” he said. Hitting back at the TDP for its comments on free power, Jagan said that when his government came to power, they were left with uncleared dues of Rs 8,655 crore for free power, which his government cleared in the larger interest of farmers.

Allaying the fears of farmers, the Chief Minister said meters are being fixed on motors to know the load, to prevent motors and transformers from getting burnt and to monitor the voltage to supply quality power by improving the feeder capacity.

“Further, the DBT of free power subsidy gives them the right to question power firms in case of substandard power supply. Farmers don’t have to shell out any extra amount.

“Our government is determined to continue free power for the next three decades, and in that direction, 10,000 MW solar power plants are being set up, which will reduce the cost of power to Rs 2 per unit,” he said.

Lambasting what he said was propaganda against free power, Jagan told the farmers to question rumour-mongers.  

Panchayat Raj Minister Preddireddy Ramachandra Reddy and Agriculture Minister K Kanna Babu were present. 

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