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Narendra Modi launches ‘Saubhagya’ scheme to provide electricity to all

LiveMint logoLiveMint 25-09-2017 PTI

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on launched a Rs16,320-crore electricity scheme—Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana “Saubhagya”—to provide electricity connections to over 4 crore families in rural and urban areas by December 2018.

“Rs16,000 crore will be spent to bring a monumental change in the lives of the poor,” Modi said while launching the “Saubhagya” scheme in New Delhi. The prime minister regretted that even after 70 years of independence, four crore out of 25 crore families did not have access to power.

Under the Saubhagya scheme, the government proposes to provide electricity to all households by December 2018, ahead of the earlier target of March 2019. All villages would be electrified by December this year ahead of the scheduled deadline of 1 May 2018. “This is a reflection of working style and will power,” Modi said, adding that power connection will be provided free of cost to all poor families under the scheme.

The prime minister also called upon ONGC to use its Rs100 crore startup funds to develop user-friendly electric cooking appliances saying it would help in reducing the fuel consumption.

According to an official statement, the total outlay of the Saubhagya scheme is Rs16,320 crore while the gross budgetary support (GBS) is Rs12,320 crore. The outlay for the rural households is Rs14,025 crore while the GBS is Rs10,587.50 crore. For the urban households, the outlay is Rs2,295 crore while GBS is Rs1,732.50 crore. The Centre will provide all states and union territories most of the funds for the scheme.

The beneficiaries for free electricity connections would be identified using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data. However, the statement said that un-electrified households not covered under the SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs500 which shall be recovered by power distribution companies in 10 instalments through electricity bills.

The Saubhagya scheme also has solar power packs of 200-300 W with battery bank for unelectrified households located in remote and inaccessible areas, comprising of Five LED lights, One DC fan, One DC power plug.

Beneficiaries of Saubhagya scheme shall be identified and their application for electricity connection along with applicant photograph and identity proof shall be registered on the spot, the statement said.

The Gram Panchayat/public institutions in the rural areas may be authorised to collect application forms along with complete documentation, distribute bills and collect revenue in consultation with the Panchayat Raj Institutions and urban local bodies.

The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) will remain the nodal agency for the operationalisation of the Saubhagya scheme throughout the country.

The government has been working hard to electrify all villages in the country and also want to achieve 24X7 Power for All by March 2019, the statement said. In 2015, the prime minister had announced to electrify the remaining 18,452 unelectrified villages in 1,000 days in his Independence Day speech. However, the power ministry is expected to electrify all villages by December this year.

According to the GARV portal, out of the 18,452 villages, 14,483 villages have been electrified so far. The electrification work is in progress on 2981 villages while 988 villages are uninhabited. The portal also indicates that out of the 17.92 crore households in rural areas, 13.87 crore families have got electricity connections. As many as 4.05 crore families are yet to be provided electricity connections.

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