All villages electrified, but darkness pervades-GS-3

Introduction

  • A closer look at the electrification data from the hinterland — especially from states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand and Odisha — shows that a sizeable number of the households in villages across most states are still in the dark, without access to electricity.
  • For instance, the 97.9 per cent, 99.5 per cent and 95.3 per cent of the villages in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam, respectively, have been deemed ‘electrified’, as per the Central government data. Yet, as per the data provided by the governments of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam, 82.84 per cent, 72.97 per cent and 62.93 per cent of their rural households, respectively, are still without any access to electricity.

Why is this case?

  • As per the government’s 2006 rural electrification policy, a village is deemed ‘electrified’ if basic infrastructure such as distribution transformer and distribution lines has been set up in the inhabited locality, including a ‘Dalit basti’. Moreover, at least 10 per cent of the households of such a village should have access to electricity through the basic infrastructure established.
  • Nowhere does the definition talks about actual electricity connection or its supply to the household.
  • After electrification of the village, intensification works are taken up till 100 per cent households are electrified. Hence, intensification is an ongoing process, not only in these 18,452 villages (which are currently getting electrified under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana), but also in the villages electrified long ago.
  • The top five states which have got largest number of unelectrified rural households are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand and Odisha. Under rural electrification scheme, the households which are below poverty line (BPL) should get free electricity connections from the government.
  • The top five states which have got the highest number of unelectrified Below Poverty Line (BPL) households currently are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Manipur. As per REC data, only 57 per cent of the country’s rural BPL households have been electrified

Power belongs to the concurrent list of the Constitution;

  • Both Centre and states have a substantial role to play.
  • In rural electrification, the Centre releases the funds through REC to states; it is ultimately the states which have to implement the scheme through their power distribution companies (discoms).
  • Apart from electrification, the DDUGJY also sanctioned money for separation of feeders for domestic and agricultural usage; strengthening rural electricity distribution structure; metering of feeders, transformers and consumers.
  • Andhra Pradesh became the second state in the country after Gujarat to achieve 100 per cent household electrification — rural as well as urban — as per the report of JM Financials.

Rural electrification is a concurrent subject and prime responsibility lies with states.

  • In order to boost rural electrification (villages as well as households) government of India facilitates the state government.
  • However, achievement in the electrification of households is also dependent on the policies of the state government, willingness of the state government, toughness of the geographical area, LWE (left wing extremism) affected area, forest area etc.
  • The Central government is soon going to launch a web portal which would show a real time status of household electrification data. Currently, it has written to states asking for re-validation of the data which it already has.

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