With the country on track to achieve complete rural electrification, the next step is to ensure power for all. Discuss how the recently launched Saubhagya scheme seeks to achieve this.

With the country on track to achieve complete rural electrification, the next step is to ensure power for all. Discuss how the recently launched Saubhagya scheme seeks to achieve this.

Approach:

  • Introduce with progress rural electrification and how ‘power for all’ is the next step
  • Explain Saubhagya scheme and its key features that are aimed at achieving power for all
  • Conclude with how the scheme does not address some critical issues and why there is a need to address them
Model Answer :

The Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (earlier Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana) scheme envisaged creation of basic electricity infrastructure in villages while the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) sought to achieve the same in the urban areas. A village to said to be “electrified” if 10% of households in the village enjoy access to electricity, along with some public places. Only about 3000 villages are to left to be electrified. However, even in areas that were electrified, many households do not have electricity connections for many reasons including last mile connectivity, awareness as well as poverty.

To address this, in September 2017, the Government of India launched the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) to achieve universal household electrification in the country. It seeks to provide electricity connections to over 4 crore unelectrified households in rural and urban areas by Dec’ 2018.

Key Highlights

  • Poor households would be provided electricity connections free of cost, while others can get connection for Rs. 500.
  • For households located in remote and inaccessible areas, solar power packs would be provided.
  • Application for electricity connections shall be registered electronically.
  • Camps would be organised in villages for identification of beneficiaries, and to complete requisite documentation
  • Wide multi-media campaign would be undertaken to make people aware of all aspects the Scheme.
  • The Gram Panchayat / public institutions in rural areas may be authorized for activities including distribution of bills and collection of revenue.
  • The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) will remain the nodal agency for the operationalisation of the scheme throughout the country.

Saubhagya does not address the fundamentals of India’s crippling power problem, including the poor financial health of discoms, high AT&C losses, illegal connections we well as the cost of power. However, Saubhagya scheme is notable for aiming to achieve power for all households which is well beyond the earlier target of electricity infrastructure for all areas. Its success would mostly depend on making power affordable as well as addressing the structural issues plaguing the power sector.

Subjects : Current Affairs

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