Evolving an integrated approach for improving efficiency of electricity-driven pumping of groundwater for agriculture - A discussion paper by CWS and Prayas

This study explores possibilities of local energy and groundwater management in Andhra Pradesh with the involvement of farmers for constructive contribution in improving the situation.

This study explores possibilities of local energy and groundwater management in Andhra Pradesh with the involvement of farmers for constructive contribution in improving the field situation in electricity supply and groundwater management.

Ground water pumping using electricity is a complex issue, leaving all actors - the farmers, distribution company, State government and environment conscious analysts - frustrated and dissatisfied. Farmers are frustrated with the poor quality of electricity supply, distribution companies with the low revenue, State government with the high levels of subsidy and the environmentalists with inefficient water use resulting in falling water tables. Level of mistrust between actors is also quite high. The process of evolving a sustainable solution is not clear.

In this context, this study by Prayas Energy Group and Centre for World Solidarity (CWS), explores:

  • Grassroot and state-level insights, regarding electricity use and water management in agriculture
  • Developing a simple methodology in consultation with farmers for collecting baseline field data and analyzing it towards improving the efficiency in a strategic way 
  • Possible areas of intervention in future

The study report presents the process of the study, initial findings and interventions in two villages. It presents the power supply scenario from the point of view of different actors. Activities included field level measurement of pumping efficiency, installation of capacitors and presentations to State power companies as well as the Regulatory Commission.

Some observations of the study are:

  • Agricultural power system is operating at a sub-optimal level owing to strained relations between key stakeholders, farmers and Distribution Company (DISCOM) staff.
  • There is scope for intervening at the grassroots by creating farmers group at DT level and facilitating their interactions with the DISCOM.
  • Simpler interventions such as installing capacitors on pump-sets, reducing the length of Low Tension (LT) service wires, proper location of LT poles, metering Distribution Transformers (DTs) and monitoring & training DT level farmer groups in day-to-day maintenance can be implemented within the existing policy framework.
  • Formal understanding between facilitating intervening civil society organisation, DISCOM and farmers can ensure continuity of the initiative in the event of change of personnel.
  • Interventions such as installing standard pump-sets, reducing the transmission losses and better service delivery at feeder and DT level are larger issues that involve larger funds, change in mind-set and policy support.

The report concludes with a few lessons and ideas, for further work.

Read the report:

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