Recently Union government announced it has achieved 100% rural electrification.
Saubhagya is one of the largest household electrification drives in the world. according to reports, the International Energy Agency (IEA) had lauded it as one of the greatest successes in the history of electrification.
- The scheme started with Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), which envisaged the creation of basic electricity infrastructure in villages. The focus of the scheme was on strengthening and augmentation the existing infrastructure and metering of existing feeders/distribution transformers to improve the quality and reliability of power supply in rural areas.
- In 2017, Saubhagya was launched, with the objective of achieving Universal Household Electrification in the country through last-mile connectivity and providing access to electricity to all un-electrified households in rural areas and poor households in urban areas. While launching the scheme, government pledged to provide access to electricity and work towards equity, efficiency and sustainability in the New Age India.
- The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana or Saubhagya is funded by the government’s grant to Discoms/power departments, utility contributions and loans from financial institutions. States get 30 per cent of the project cost as loan. The electricity connection to households involves drawing a service cable from the nearest pole to the household premise, installation of an energy meter, wiring for a single light point with LED bulb, and a mobile charging point.
- While the set objectives of the scheme have been achieved, team Saubhagya has continued its work of providing 24×7 quality power supplies to all, the Ministry said. All States have been requested to launch special campaigns to identify un-electrified households and thereafter provide electricity connections to them. A dedicated toll-free helpline has also been launched for that purpose.
Benefits of rural electrification
- Rural electrification helps to reduce time allocated to fuelwood collection by household members and increases time allocated to studying by boys and girls.
- ural electrification also increases the labor supply of men and women, schooling of boys and girls, and household per capita income and expenditure.
- Electrification also helps reduce poverty.
- Increased education possibilities as pupils and students are able to study during night time
- Clinics and hospitals can operate at night
- Fewer unhealthy kerosene lamps, meaning improved health conditions
- Increased basic comfort
- Storing of food, vaccines, medicine allowing for improved health conditions
- Access to information strengthens local education
- Knowledge sharing
- Disaster risk mitigation
- Increased geological and other knowledge
- Improved connectivity and communication
- Distance learning for education.
- Less isolation
- Facilitates mobile banking
What more to be done
- 360-degree impact assessment of such programmes with impetus on policy convergence.
- An extensive impact assessment with stakeholder engagement is imperative to enhance policy mileage and outcome, rather than just technical and commercial audits
- The scheme only targets connecting the last mile with basic electrical networks, but it does not incentivise distribution utilities to provide dependable power across all beneficiaries
For success of schemes like Saubhagya what is needed is fixing accountability. Tt should also focus on the socio-economic impact. The said challenges can easily be overcome by adopting a consultative approach.
How to structure:
- Give an intro about the current extent of electrified households in India
- Discuss the government schemes that are trying for electrification across India
- Explain the advantages of rural electrification and mention a few challenges