State of electrification in India in Modi years: An overview
New Delhi, March 5: When it took oath in May 2014, the Narendra Modi government had emphasised on basic infrastructure for all Indians and of it, electricity for all household remained key. The current government is of the opinion that it has fulfilled the promise to a great extent.
By the end of April 2018, the government announced that all villages in India had been electrified. In December that year, it claimed that households in 25 states had been provided with electricity connection.
As per an article published under Scroll.in's 'The Modi Years' section, electrification of village is not a big feat for a village is considered electrified once 10 per cent of its houses and significant civic infrastructure like schools and panchayat offices are linked to the power grid.
It said the previous United Progressive Alliance government led by the Congress had already connected over 1,09,000 villages to the grid between 2004-14 through a scheme called Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana.
"The Modi government just added 18,374 villages through the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana. On its part, the government claims this was a significant achievement since the leftover villages were more inaccessible," the report said.
It also cited an India Today report that said that soon after the government announced that all villages had been brought under electrification, many villages were yet to get power connection. The power ministry said it worked on bringing electricity only to the census village.
In September 2017, the Modi government launched the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana or 'Saubhagya' scheme aiming to connect all Indian households (not just villages) to the power grid by 2019. Under the scheme, households living below the poverty line get a free power connection, others are charged Rs 500.
"The actual cost of one connection, however, is pegged at Rs 3,000. The electricity distribution companies executing the scheme are compensated by the government, which allocated Rs 16,320 crore for 'Saubhagya' in 2017-'18. This came down to Rs 3,700 crore in 2018-'19. Some have argued this is inadequate and has resulted in poor quality of connections," the Scroll.in report added.
In December 2018, the government announced that 2.48 crore households had been connected to the power grid and claimed that 99.8 per cent of all previously unelectrified households were covered. In April 2018 though, estimates submitted by various states to the central government showed that 6.4 crore households were yet to have electricity connections.
About the drastic change in the numbers, one report said the states had drastically shifted the targets.