Amid coronavirus lockdown, rural India is getting powered by mini grid services and not thermal power stations for electricity supply and more people are finding it a reliable solution to their energy needs. 90% of the respondents in a survey conducted by Smart Power India (SPI), a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Foundation, said that they could rely on mini grid services for their electricity supply during lockdown, a report titled ‘Impact of Post COVID-19 Lockdown’ said on Friday. States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar participated in the survey with the sample consisting of 30% households, 48% shops and 22% rural enterprises. Mini grid services are provided in remote areas where it is not possible to power the region by national supply.
“Mini-grids services are effectively driving rural India’s need for reliable electricity,” said Jaideep Mukherji, CEO, Smart Power India, adding that electricity availability also helped the people residing in rural areas to get access to healthcare services and the Jan Dhan Yojana benefits. Some of the flagship initiatives by the government have also helped in cushioning the blow of coronavirus for rural India. These initiatives include welfare schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and the Jan Dhan accounts. During lockdown, over one in every three of those surveyed said that they availed the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and the Jan Dhan Yojana as coronavirus dried up revenue sources. However, economic activities in the mini-grid villages still remain downbeat due to nation-wide lockdown.
The villages are getting 16 hours of power supply on a daily basis during lockdown, 65% of the respondents said. However, Uttar Pradesh witnessed a major drop in government grid-connected electricity supply from the previous 16 hours to 12 hours a day recently. On the other hand, Bihar has reportedly improved from 16 hours to 20 hours a day. However, those who avail mini-grid services have fared better. The mini grid services are crucial to India’s national electrification drive as some regions cannot be connected to the national grid.