Mumbai, 7 December 2022: Maharashtra is the country’s first state to develop and promote Agri-tourism. It recognizes that Agri-tourism contributes to sustainable rural development and farm income diversification. The state government introduced an Agri-Tourism Policy in September 2020, which emphasizes the significance of Agri-Tourism initiatives in sustaining rural economic development by allowing farmers to diversify their income and providing employment to rural youth and women.
Maharashtra has 328 Agri-tourism centres spread across 30 districts, including Pune, Aurangabad, villages near Nagpur, and the tribal belt of Thane district. Farmers’ incomes in the state have increased by 25%, since the programme’s inception. These Agri-tourism centres attracted 4.7 lakh, 5.3 lakh and 7.9 lakh tourists in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively, generating a total revenue of INR 55.79 crore for the farmers. Furthermore, the Agri-tourism initiative has helped in the creation of over 1 lakh jobs for women and youth in rural areas.
However, it has been observed that the majority of these farmhouses experience frequent power outages and are heavily reliant on expensive and polluting diesel generator sets. These diesel generator sets not only have a significant financial impact on consumers, but they also pose a serious environmental threat in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Commenting on the issue, Nikita Deshmukh, Owner of Deshmukh Farmhouse and Agri Tourism, at Thane, said, “Power is frequently disrupted due to the hilly and remote terrain, so we rely on generators. Furthermore, the power is turned off every Friday because the state electricity board has designated the day for maintenance.”
According to the Manager of Harmony Village Agri tourism centre, the power supply is disrupted during rain or a storm. When there is a power outage, the supply is not restored for a long time. Also, the power supply is unreliable, as there is no fixed schedule for power outages. As a result, the Agri tourism centre makes use of solar energy or generators.
According to the owner of DS Park, a farmhouse (Agri tourism centre), there is a major power supply problem in this area because if the power goes out for two days, it does not come back on. Power outages are common.
To ensure 24×7 reliable power in Maharashtra, it is crucial to bridge the gap between power demand and supply with a robust inter-state transmission system. Power transmission lines can also help to reduce the use of diesel generator sets while also managing their economic and environmental impact. It would contribute to the elimination of these DG sets in turn helping reduce harmful CO2 emissions and enhance business efficiency. As a result, it is critical to supplement the existing transmission network with an ISTS feed.
The Ministry of Power’s Mumbai Urja Marg inter-state transmission system project aims to provide reliable, affordable, and green power to the developing Mumbai Metropolitan Region. However, quick actions, approvals, and support by stakeholders are required to expedite this project because once operational, Mumbai Urja Marg will be capable of carrying more than 2000 MW of additional power to the region via an inter-state transmission system (ISTS) feed.
In addition, the project will strengthen the existing transmission system to meet rising power demands and make it energy-ready for the future. Along with the much-needed capacity expansion, it will enable increased use of Green Power at competitive rates, lowering electricity costs for consumers.