Singh also claims that there had been irregularities on the part of the contractor, Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd, and that it had been fined Rs 60 lakh. “This area has a hilly terrain and to reach connections to so many households is quite a challenge. We had a huge task at hand and a few irregularities here and there are always possible,” he said.
The scheme had been launched across the country in March 2005 with the objective of electrifying over one lakh powerless villages and to provide free electricity connections to 2.34 crore BPL households. The government of India was to put in 90 per cent of the investment, and the rural electrification corporation the remaining 10 per cent.
Activists working in the state claim that across Rajasthan, stories such as Saroth’s are rampant. The official website of the Power Department claims 17.5 lakh BPL households have been electrified and a dismal 30 per cent of the targeted connections achieved. But the example of Rajsamand district alone is telling.
In Bhim, 8,112 BPL households out of a total of 12,146 have been given connections in the first phase, which is officially over now. Last month, at public hearings in Rajsamand, 163 complaints regarding power connections were registered, out of which 63 are from BPL households.