The solar energy generation project seems to be paving the way for affluent politicians-cum-farmers to turn businessmen. In the just-concluded financial bidding process, many politicians have bid for the project.
This has not gone down well with farmers. They have cried foul over the bidding process as thousands of them could not submit applications. They have alleged that some irregularities have taken place to keep off farmers from the process.
The pre-conditions for bidding are said to have been designed in such a way that only cash-rich farmers are able to avail the benefit.
The project has seen at least four politicians participating in the bidding. They are Bijapur BJP MP Ramesh Jigajinagi and two of his family members, independent MLA from Kundapur Halady Srinivas Shetty, Congress MLA from Jagalur H P Rajesh and former JD(U) MLA B Somashekar.
The State has drawn up the project under a Centrally sponsored scheme which offers 30 per cent subsidy on the total cost of generation. Those who have a minimum of five acres of land are eligible to bid for the project. The Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) began the process of inviting online applications from 11 am on October 9. Within just seven minutes, the process was closed after 295 applications were received.
The State intends to allow 300 MW of solar power generation for now under this project. The total applications received by five electricity supply companies in the State are about 10,000.
The demand is huge because the government will bear the cost of setting up the power generation unit. The selection of bidders is through first-come-first-served basis.
Ramesh Jigajinagi and his family members – Vinod Jigajinagi and Anand Jigajinagi- have applied separately for their farm spread over nine acres. The applications have been filed for tenders from the Hubli Electricity Supply Company (Hescom). The BJP MP has applied under the Scheduled Castes category.
Halady Srinivas Shetty, former BJP leader and now Independent MLA, has applied to at least two electricity supply companies for the tender. The leader from Kundapur intends to set up his solar power generation at Molkalmur, Chitradurga district. Shetty has shown that he is in possession of 19 acres and one gunta of land. He has bid for both Mangalore Electricity Supply Company and Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Company. He falls under the general category.
For Congress MLA from Jagalur, H P Rajesh, a power plant on his land at Jagalur in Davangere district is preferable. He has tried his luck under Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) as well as Hescom.
He has shown 15 acres and 34 guntas in his possession to put up a plant. He has applied under Scheduled Tribes category. Energy department sources, countering the allegations of farmers that individuals had been favoured, claimed that the bidding process was transparent.
There was no rigging to include politicians, they said. Film star Puneeth Rajkumar also tried to submit an application under the project, but he failed because he could not apply within the first few minutes.
Though there is no bar on submitting more than one application, an individual will be allowed to put up only one plant through only one escom. KREDL has accepted applications for generating 600 MW. This is mainly because many individuals have submitted more than one application.