Waiting for light

Print edition : October 27, 2017
The government’s latest scheme to achieve universal household electrification is high on ambition and sets impractical targets.

WITH the launch, in September, of the Saubhagya scheme, a Rs.16,320-crore project aimed at providing electricity to all willing households, the Narendra Modi regime has once again brought into focus the enormity of the task of bringing power to every household in the country and the progress the government has made so far.

Statistics from the Rural Electrification Corporation show that the targeted number of households is around 4.04 crore, with Uttar Pradesh alone accounting for more than 1.46 crore (nearly 40 per cent). Other States with a high number of households without power are Rajasthan (above 20 lakh), Assam (above 24 lakh), Jharkhand (above 30 lakh), Odisha (above 32 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (nearly 45 lakh) and Bihar (above 64 lakh). As per latest data available, only about 23 per cent of the target (25.87 lakh households) has been met.

However, the website also says that the rural electrification target aims to bring power to 18,452 villages and that the government has already achieved 79 per cent of the target (14,564).

The disparity in the percentages stems from the official definition of an electrified village: as per law, the government can declare a village as electrified if just 10 per cent of the households have been given electrical connections.

According to Central Electricity Authority data, the power supply position in the country has been improving over the past eight years, with the gap between requirement and availability steadily coming down from 10.1 per cent in 2009-10 to 0.7 per cent in 2016-17.

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