Bringing 24×7 power to all by 2022 | The Hindu
India has four crore unelectrified rural households. The year 2022, the 75th anniversary of Indian independence, has been earmarked for achieving ‘24×7 Power for All’. Achieving this target would mean electrifying more than 7 lakh households every month!
Current performance –
Data from the power ministry’s GARV-2 portal suggest that the Government has electrified more than three-fourths of the remaining 18,000-plus unelectrified villages since it came to power in 2014. Recently, the Government has also shifted focus from village electrification, which required only 10 per cent of the households in a village to be electrified, to electrifying every household.
Future roadmap –
A concrete action plan should include certain priorities –
- Firstly, legalise existing connections. Legalising the electrified villages in many States would help the Government move closer to its target.
- Secondly, improve uptake of connections by addressing cashflow hurdles, awareness barriers, and supply challenges. High upfront cost is the major reason behind consumer disinterest in taking up an electricity connection.
- Thirdly, improve the supply situation for electrified households. DISCOMs need to better plan for their infrastructure, factoring in near-term increase in demand, strengthening maintenance, and improving supply.
- Fourthly, explore innovative business models. Maintenance and operations such as reading meters, generating bills, and collecting revenues, are key concerns. To better manage their services, discoms could explore a franchisee model by collaborating with local mini-grid operators.
- Fifthly, cater to people’s aspirations. This will create a willingness to pay for the service. In a favourable political atmosphere, if rural households were to be provided quality supply via prepaid metering, it could potentially nudge them to make timely payments.
Former power minister Piyush Goyal acknowledged that success depends on curbing discom losses and consumer honesty. Distributed generation could complement centralised grid electricity to resolve both, and ensure sustained use of electricity not just for rural households, but also for the entire rural economy including farms, schools, hospitals, and small businesses. It would lead to improved consumer satisfaction, as electricity truly becomes an enabler of prosperity in rural India.