As many as 73 per cent of the 18,452 villages that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government identified for electrification in 2015 now have power supply, but only eight per cent of these had all their households electrified, according to the governments own data.
As of May 25, 13,523 villages have been electrified, but 100 per cent household connectivity has been achieved in only 1,089 villages, according to data in the Power Ministry’s Grameen Vidyutikaran (GARV) dashboard.
“Certain segments of India have been historically disadvantaged. Due to a lopsided development approach and skewed allocation of resources, they continue to lag behind the rest of the country in socio-economic indicators,” the BJP had said in its manifesto for the 2014 general election, promising to ensure equitable growth and development by “ensuring a basic level of Infrastructure to all — Home, Electricity, Water, Toilets and Access”.
The previous Congress-led government, under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana rural electrification scheme, had connected 108,280 villages to the grid between 2005-06 and 2013-14. From 2014 to 2017, under the BJP’s rural electrification drive, 14,528 villages have been electrified. On average, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government electrified 12,030 villages per year, while the BJP government has electrified 4,842 — less than half the UPA’s average.
In the BJP’s third year, 2016-17, 6,015 villages were electrified, five times more than in 2013-14, according to a May 19 press release by the Ministry of Power, but fewer than the villages electrified the year before in 2015-16.
Celebrating the achievement, Power Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted: “In the past three years rural electrification has witnessed an unprecedented change, and it is our aim to provide everyone with 24×7 power.”
Of the 4,492 villages that remained to be electrified at the end of March, 2,268 were scheduled for grid connection, 2,196 for off-grid electrification because of geographical barriers, and 28 for electrification by state governments, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority.
Most off-grid village projects are concentrated in states such as Arunachal Pradesh (958), Assam (357), Jharkhand (356) and Chhattisgarh (306).
As part of the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, the BJP’s rural electrification scheme, the government had also proposed to provide free electricity connections to over 43.5 million rural households below the poverty line (BPL, with the poverty line set at Rs 816 per capita per month for rural areas).
As of April, 25.68 million BPL households (58.9 per cent) were provided free electricity connections, according to the power ministry. Between 2005, when the UPA scheme was launched, and March 2013, a total of 20.5 million BPL households were provided free electricity connections.