When the Modi government took over, there were 18,452 unelectrified villages in the country but data shared by the Centre on Sunday showed that all of India’s 5,97,464 villages have been now electrified.
The power ministry has reported that all inhabited villages in the country have been electrified. When the Modi government took over, there were 18,452 unelectrified villages in the country but data shared by the Centre on Sunday showed that all of India’s 5,97,464 villages have been now electrified.
With electricity connection reaching every village, the government is now planning to focus on the quality of power supplied.
However, more than 3.1 crore rural households remain unconnected, and are expected to get linked with the grid by December, 2018 under the Saubhagya scheme.
Electricity distribution companies (discoms) would have to brace for more challenging times with the rise in household connections, official sources said. In order to provide uninterrupted quality power, they have to focus on improving the infrastructure to cut down losses from power theft and pilferage.
Consumer rights will be given more prominence in the proposed amendments in the Electricity Act to be introduced in Parliament in the monsoon session.
“Electricity is the only sector where the rights of the consumer are not protected, where even after paying for fixed costs, they are not guaranteed round-the-clock quality power,” power minister RK Singh had recently told FE, reiterating that penalty provisions would be brought in for gratuitous loadsheddings by discoms from April, 2019.
To improve the quality of power, the states need to ramp up the feeder segregation process to prevent misuse and exploitation of subsidised electricity to agricultural consumers, sources said. As much as 62% of the 62,713 feeders have been segregated so far.
The power ministry expects that subsidy disbursal to qualified consumers through direct benefit transfer (DBT) would also excuse discoms from the financial stress of untimely subsidy payment from the states, and allow them concentrate to improve other infrastructure for better billing and collection efficiencies.
As reported by FE earlier, the government had estimated that if discoms with higher establishment costs bring down their expenses to Rs 0.67/unit, it would lead to a savings of Rs 10,000 crore. Kerala had the highest establishment cost of Rs 1.73/unit, followed by Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Punjab and Maharshtra.
According to sources in the power ministry, the Central Electricity Authority has been asked to formulate state-wise benchmarks for establishment costs for every state discoms.