Oyt scheme leaves farmers disappointed

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Old 06-Jul-2008
Post Oyt scheme leaves farmers disappointed

Chandigarh July 6:
“Where should I now go? Who should I approach? Will I ever have a tube well connection, for which have spent Rs 1.50 lakh under the OYT scheme (own your transformer)?” Sukhdev Singh, a resident of a village near Hargobindpur, asks these questions repeatedly.
Reason: His dream of having a tube well connection under the scheme has been shattered by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the Punjab government that had launched the scheme with fanfare. There are thousands like Sukhdev who have spent a large amount under the OYT, but have been left in the lurch by the PSEB. For no fault of theirs farmers have become victims of the scheme.
PSEB sources said 89,000 farmers had applied under the scheme and 68,000 were issued demand notices. Of them, 34,000 had deposited the money and connections to 21,000 farmers were released. Most of the remaining farmers have bought transformers and got all fittings done, but they are not sure whether they will get the connection or not. Many applicant farmers have borrowed money it is learnt.
“Expecting a connection, I planted 5 acres of more paddy this time. Now I don’t know what to do,” says Sukhdev. The PSEB did not give even temporary connections to tube wells this time. It suddenly suspended the scheme on May 29, a few days after the panchayat elections. Obviously, the scheme had a political axe.
It announced that those who had purchased material such as transformers etc and submitted test reports by June 17 would be eligible for connections. But there were many applicants, who had got other fittings required for power connection, done before June 6, but were awaiting transformers from dealers through whom they had deposited money with manufacturers.
The PSEB, that failed to do proper home work before the launching of the scheme, has now landed such farmers in trouble. The sources said as there was a rush for connections under the OYT scheme, some manufacturers got the opportunity to sell farmers substandard material and fittings such as transformers, concrete poles, conductors, switches, pins and insulators.
At some places test reports were also manipulated and inspection reports of transformers were also “managed”. A committee of engineers, that was asked to look into the OYT scam, has submitted a report that reveals how some fishy characters “managed” everything to secure connections.
About 5,000 transformers installed under the scheme are said to be sub-standard and these will damage power distribution system and farmers, who would have to spend a lot of money to get these transformers repaired because of frequent burning. Originally, when the scheme was launched, the PSEB was to procure and install the transformers and other fittings.
However, as it proved to be a costly affair for farmers and they raised voice against it, the PSEB diluted the scheme twice, leaving it to farmers that they can procure the material and do fittings at their own level and the PSEB officials concerned would inspect only transformers. However, in the process, the scheme that was launched to benefit farmers, turned out to a problem for many of them.

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