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Rural Electrification- a distant dream !

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Rural_Electrification.jpegRural Electrification has been one of the key focus areas for the current government.The vision of “Power for All” has been shining brightly in the eyes of government and it aims to electrify all villages by May 2018.The following post will look at the current status of Rural Electrification and various initiatives taken by the government to achieve this target.

Meaning of Electrification

As per the earlier definition of Rural electrification “A village is classified as electrified if electricity is being used within its revenue area for any purpose what. so-ever..” However, the definition needs some revision and the overall purview of Electrification is currently amended definition of Electrification as follows :

Thus,as per the above definition it requires only 10 % of the households in a village to be connected for it to be classified as “electrified”. This implies that even if a large number of households remain un-electrified after covering 10%, still the village will qualify to be called as “Electrified”moreover, the definition doesn’t specify the minimum number of hours of electricity supply in the villages.

Initiatives/Schemes in Rural Electrification

Prima-facie, a couple of major steps have been taken by the earlier government and the current government.Some of these are :

  1. Establishment of REC (Rural Electrification Corporation) : REC was established in the 1969 with the objective of providing finance and promoting finance and promoting rural electrification across the country.Its main objective is to finance and promote rural electrification projects all over the country. It provides financial assistance to State Electricity Boards, State Government Departments and Rural Electric Cooperatives for rural electrification projects as are sponsored by them.
  2. RGGVY (Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana) It was launched in April 2005 for attaining the National Common Minimum Program  goal of providing access to electricity to each and every household within a period of 5 years.The scheme was to officially end in 2009 ,however, due to non-attainment of the targets, certain allocation were made for the continuation in the 12th plan period (2012 -17). In terms of achieving the targets of lighting up unelectrified villages, the performance was much better in the initial years than in the last three years of the program.
  3. DDUGY(DeenDayal Upadhyaya Gram jyoti Yojana) : In Dec’14, the government announced DDUGY with some modification to the RGGVY scheme already in progress.It aims feeder segregation and strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution infrastructure in rural areas including metering of distribution transformers/feeders/consumers part from electrification of unelectrified villages,household.
    Villages Electrified
    Source :DDUGJY

     

    Current Status

As per the revised targets set by REC vis-a-vis government of India , 2,21,424 villages to be electrified out of which 95,977 have already been electrified ( Dated 20.04.2016 http://garv.gov.in/dashboard ) . Nine states (AP , Goa , Haryana, Kerala,Maharashtra,Punjab,Sikkim and Tamil Nadu) have achieved 100 % of the village electrification.Bihar is the worst performer in terms of household electrification. While 97 percent of the Bihar’s village are electrified, only 12 percent homes have electricity connections.

Targets 31.03.16
Targets of Balance Un-electrified Villages as on 31.03.2016
¬†Dilemma of Electrified and “Electricity”
As mentioned earlier around 98 % of the total inhabited villages have been electrified in India till dated but only around 64 % of he households have electricity connections. Many institutions have come up with independent research reports targeting the reality checks of the rural electrification program. A recent report by CEEW states in its report namely “Access to Clean Cooking Energy and Electricity, Survey of states” that only 4-5 % of households get supply for 20 hours or more.¬† This implies that a large part of electrification and energy access are superficial and the same needs to be cross-verified by third party agencies.
Conclusion
The benefits of energy access and security are no doubt immense as the electricity to distant villages has lead to significant improvements in the living standards of the villagers.In impoverished and undeveloped areas, even small amount of electricity have freed up large amounts of human time and effort.With the advent of rural electrification, use of kerosene oil has seen a significant dip in the recent years ,leading to and environment friendly solution.To ensure energy security in rural areas , a strategy needs to be evolved targeting :
  • Location specific technologies like solar,wind,mini-hydel so that target of electrification reach the granular level of society.
  • Technological improvement required at the micro level so that the systems are well maintained over longer duration with requisite maintenance strategies.
  • Last but not the least, there are still so many villages across India which have not experience the word “Electricity” and they are to be helped with utmost priority.
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