After making timely progress in village electrification, the government is planning to train its attention on providing electricity to individual households. It has now decided to complete the “100% household electrification mission” by May 2018. Power minister Piyush Goyal, while addressing the media on Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) in New Delhi on Friday, said “instead of counting 10% households in the village to complete electrification process, now the government is focusing on providing power connections to each and every household of village”.
Goyal added that villages in the remote areas, especially near the borders, would receive off-grid electricity through solar power. To that end, the government would provide standalone solar connections with 2 kilo-watt battery storage facilities to rural households in such places. They would also get five LED bulbs, two energy efficient fans and plug points. The minister also said that government undertaking companies like Rural Electrification Corporation and Power Finance Corporation would consider providing LED televisions to these households as part of the companies’ CSR activities.
Under the current official definition, villages can be called electrified if at least 10% its households are provided with electricity connection, which can represent a rosier than reality scenario. Even though official figures say that only 3,992 villages remain un-electrified in the country, the number of rural households without access to power is more than 4.5 crore.
However, the move would not do much to ramp up power demand in the country. Against an installed capacity of over 320 GW, power demand is around 130 GW. Stagnant demand has led to private power plants running at low utilisation levels, which makes it difficult to service their debt. It also increases the risk of many of these plants turning into non performing assets. Goyal said that since the rural per-capita power consumption is low, the electrification schemes would not have a significant growth in the demand scenario.
The DDUGJY programme was launched in November 2014. It subsumed the features of the previous Rajeev Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana such as electricity access to villages and households along with free connection to BPL families. The outlay of DDUGJY is Rs 43,033 crore with Rs 33,453 crores grant from the centre. There has been a significant increase in the speed of rural electrification under DDUGJY, covering 6,015 village in FY17, compared to 1,197 in FY14.