The government today said power will not be provided free of cost to any category of consumer under the recently launched Saubhagya scheme, which aims to provide electricity to all. The scheme is expected to increase the energy requirement by 28,000 MW per year.
However, under the scheme the poor families will be provided electricity connections free of cost, said the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the scheme released today by the power ministry. According to the document, other families will pay Rs 500 only, which shall be recovered by the DISCOMs (Distribution Companies) /Power Departments in 10 instalments along with electricity bills.
The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday with an ambition of providing electricity connections to all 4 crore left-out families by December 2018. The FAQ further said connecting 4 crore left-out families under Saubhagya will increase the electricity requirement by 28,000 MW or 80,000 million units in a year. As per back-of-the-envelope calculation, at an average rate of electricity of Rs 3 per unit, the discoms can garner Rs 24,000 crore additional revenues.
“There is no provision in the scheme to provide free power to any category of consumers. The cost of electricity consumption shall have to be paid by the respective consumers as per prevailing tariff of the DISCOM/Power Department,” the FAQ said. The document also explained that with the inclusion of 4 crore households in the electricity network, there will be requirement of additional power of about 28,000 MW, considering an average load of 1 KW per household and average uses of load for 8 hours in a day. It further explained that there would be an additional energy requirement of about 80,000 million units per annum.
The FAQ also said this is a dynamic figure. With the enhancement of income and habit of using electricity, the demand of electricity is bound to vary. This figure will also vary if the assumptions are changed. Under Saubhagya the electricity connection to households include release of electricity connections by drawing a service cable from the nearest electricity pole to the household premise, installation of energy meter, wiring for a single light point with LED bulb and a mobile charging point. In case, the electricity pole is not available nearby from household for drawing service cable, the erection of additional pole along with conductor and associated accessories shall also be covered under the scheme.
It was also told that the cost of Saubhagya scheme i.e. Rs 16,320 crore is over and above the investment being made under DDUGJY (Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana). On the need for having another scheme when DDIGY and Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) are operational, the FAQ explained that there is also lack of awareness as to how to get connection or taking connection is not an easy task for illiterate people. It said that there may not be electricity pole nearby and the cost of erection of additional pole, conductor is also chargeable from the households for obtaining a connection. It explained that Similarly in urban areas, the IPDS provides for creation of necessary infrastructure to provide electricity access but some households are not yet connected mainly on account of their economic condition as they are not capable of paying the initial connection charges.
Therefore, it said that Soubhagya has been launched to plug such gaps and comprehensively address the issues of entry barrier, last mile connectivity and release of electricity connections to all un-electrified households in rural and urban areas. Under the scheme, application for electricity connections will also be registered electronically and requisite documentation, including photograph of applicant, copy of identity card and /or details such as mobile number/Aadhar number/bank account number etc will be completed on spot at the camps, so that connections are released at the earliest.
The Gram Panchayat / public institutions in rural areas will also be authorised to collect application form, complete documentation and also for distribution of bills, collection of revenue and other activities, as applicable. For households located in remote and inaccessible areas, solar power packs of 200 to 300 Watt and battery back with 5 LED light, 1 DC Fan, 1 DC power plug along with repair and maintenance for 5 years will be provided, it added. It also said that the projects under the scheme will be sanctioned based on the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) to be submitted by the states. There is no upfront allocation of fund under the scheme.