28 Jan : Rural electrification has been regarded as a vital programme for the development of rural areas. It is now well accepted that electricity has become one of the basic human needs and every household must have access to electricity. In rural India, supply of electricity is needed for broad based economic and human development. In accordance with the Census 2001, about 1.2 lakh villages were un-electrified in the country and about 7.8 Crore rural households had no electricity.
The National Electricity Policy envisages access to electricity to all and supply of quality power to rural areas for 24 hours. The definition of village electrification has been made stricter to ensure availability of sufficient electricity infrastructure in each village before declaring it as electrified. In accordance with the new definition, a village will be declared as electrified if basic infrastructure such as distribution transformer & distribution lines are provided in the inhabited locality as well as the dalit basti (wherever exists), electricity is provided to public places (schools, Panchayat offices, health centres, dispensaries, community centres etc.) and when at least 10% of the total households in the village have been electrified.
Keeping in view the slow pace of rural electrification by the States, the Government launched Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) as one of its flagship programme in March 2005 with an objective to electrify over one lakh un-electrified villages and to provide free electricity connections to estimated 2.34 crore rural BPL households. The Government is providing 90% of the project cost as subsidy has so far sanctioned a subsidy of Rs. 33,000 crore, of which Rs. 17,900 crore has already been released.
The scheme covers following activities: Rural Electricity Distribution Backbone (REDB); Creation of Village Electrification Infrastructure (VEI): Decentralized Distributed Generation (DDG) and Supply and Rural Household Electrification of Below Poverty Line Households.
Though, the focus is to electrify the villages through grid connectivity, Decentralized Distributed Generation (DDG) projects based on new & renewable sources can also be taken up by States, wherever such solution is found more cost effective.
The States having large number of un-electrified villages and households (Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) have been given more emphasis under the scheme. Other areas of focus are special category states of north-east, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand, districts having international boundaries and districts affected by naxal activities. Habitations above 100 population are being covered under the scheme.
So far, the Ministry of Power has sanctioned 567 projects for 540 districts to electrify 118,499 villages and to provide free electricity connections to 2.46 crore BPL rural households. Additionally, 3.54 lakh already electrified villages are being intensively electrified.
As on January 1, 2010, 67,607 villages have been electrified, 97,599 villages have been intensively electrified and 83.88 lakh free electricity connections have been released to BPL households. It is targeted to electrify 1 lakh villages and to provide electricity connections to 175 lakh BPL households by March 2012.
Rural Electrification Corporation is the nodal agency for implementation of the scheme. Services of power sector CPSUs namely Powergrid, NTPC, NHPC and DVC have been made available to the State Power Utilities for fast implementation of the projects.
For effective and quality implementation of the projects, the Ministry has adopted turnkey mode of implementation, three-tier quality monitoring mechanism and mile stone based project monitoring. The states have been asked to provide minimum 6 to 8 hours of electricity to the villages electrified under the scheme. It has also been made mandatory to establish franchisees in the RGGVY electrified villages for effective distribution management. The franchising of distribution management is creating good employment opportunity for the rural youth. So far, franchisees have been established in 1.02 lakh villages.
Under the scheme, the Ministry has also undertaken training of C & D employees of the State Power Utilities and franchisees. It is targeted to impart training to 75,000 employees and 40,000 franchisees during the XI Plan.
A website http://rggvy.gov.in has been launched by the Ministry, wherein all the details of RGGVY projects, villages covered & electrified under the scheme are available. A separate window “Public Forum” has been created for comments & complaints. The comments on this website are promptly replied by agency responsible for implementing the project in the concerned district.