Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched a Rs 16,320-crore scheme - Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana ‘Saubhagya’ -- to provide electricity connections to over 4 crore families in rural and urban areas by December 2018.
“Rs 16,000 crore will be spent to bring a monumental change in the lives of the poor,” Modi said while launching the ‘Saubhagya’ scheme.
The prime minister regretted that even after 70 years of independence 4 crore out of 25 crore families did not have access to power.
Under the scheme, the government proposes to provide electricity to all households by December 2018, ahead of the earlier target of March, 2019.
All villages would be electrified by December this year ahead of the scheduled deadline of May 1, 2018.
“This is a reflection of working style and will power,” Modi said adding, power connection will be provided free of cost to all poor families under the scheme.
He said that earlier there used to be breaking news regarding power outages and shortage of coal to power plants but now situation has changed and the nation is moving from a scenario of power shortage to surplus.
The prime minister also called upon ONGC to use its Rs 100 crore start-up funds to develop user friendly electric cooking appliances saying it would help in reducing the fuel consumption.
According to an official statement, the total outlay of the ‘Saubhagya’ project is Rs 16,320 crore while the Gross Budgetary Support is Rs 12,320 crore.
The outlay for the rural households is Rs 14,025 crore while the GBS is Rs 10,587.50 crore. For the urban households the outlay is Rs 2,295 crore while GBS is Rs 1,732.50 crore. The Centre will provide largely funds for the scheme to all states/union territories.
The beneficiaries for free electricity connections would be identified using Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 data.
However, it said that un-electrified households not covered under the SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity
The solar power packs of 200 to 300 Wp with battery bank for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible areas, comprises of five LED lights, one DC fan, one DC power plug.
Beneficiaries shall be identified and their application for electricity connection along with applicant photograph and identity proof shall be registered on spot, the statement
The gram panchayat/public institutions in the rural areas may be authorised to collect application forms along with complete documentation, distribute bills and collect revenue in consultation with the Panchayat Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies.
The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited will remain the nodal agency for the operationalisation of the scheme throughout the country.
The government has been working hard to electrify all villages in the country and also want to achieve 24X7 power for all by March, 2019, the statement said.
In 2015, the prime minister had announced to electrify the remaining 18,452 unelectrified villages in 1,000 days in his Independence Day speech. However, the power ministry is expected to electrify all habited villages by December this year.
According to GARV portal, out of the 18,452 villages, 14,483 villages have been electrified so far. The electrification work is in progress on 2,981 villages while 988 villages are uninhabited.
The portal also indicates that out of the 17.92 crore households in rural areas, 13.87 crore families have got electricity connections. As many as 4.05 crore families are yet to be provided electricity connections.
Photograph: Munish Byala/Reuters