You are here: Home » Opinion » Special » On The Beat
Business Standard

Nagela Fatela and the real story behind rural electrification

Electricity supply has always been a political subject. And dark villages help fuel it during elections. Promises of free power for years has led to darkness

Shreya Jai  |  New Delhi 

It might sound depressing but villages in our country might continue to remain in dark, probably longer than the NDA government has envisaged electrifying them. Power supply in India is a peculiar business, especially now, when the current government claims that we are power surplus. Let us get two things clear – we are not a power surplus nation, we are demand deficit. Secondly, the centre alone can’t be blamed for power cuts nor states are solely responsible for the dismal state of affairs. India’s per capita power consumption is close to 1000 units (kWh). China is 5000 units and US, UK and other developed countries are close to 10,000-15,000 units. Our current installed capacity is 3 lakh MW and our daily power production is 1178 billion units. The first ever rural electrification drive was started in the name of Rajiv Gandhi Gram Vidyut Yojana (RGGVY) in the year 2005. The model was simple. States would identify un-electrified villages, prepare a detailed project report (DPR), make cost estimates and submit to the centre. The Centre would then check the cost breakup and allot funds accordingly. The central funds are released as and when states meet their targets post which the state issues a public certificate declaring a district as electrified. Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), which is a statutory body with the ministry of power was the undersigned department for RGGVY. REC data, as reported by news website Bloomberg Quint, reflects that UPA holds the best record of electrifying 28,000 villages in one year during 2006-07. Till March 2014, the total villages electrified were close to 1 lakh. Quality of power supply? Debatable. NDA came to power in May 2014. On January 26, 2015, PM Narendra Modi announced from the Red Fort that his government will electrify remaining 18,000 un-electrified villages in 1000 days. Since then the REC and the power ministry are on a mission mode. The name was changed to Deen Dayal Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDGUJY), a monitoring website and mobile app GARV was released and close to 1000 young engineers or Gram Vidyut Abhityantas (GAVs) were sent to un-electrified villages to monitor the ground situation. Since then, several news reports have cited cases where a particular village was declared electrified but does not have power. The recent being Nagela Fatela in Uttar Pradesh, which found honorary mention in the PM’s speech this Independence Day for getting electricity after 70 years. Next day, Indian Express & The Times of India reported from the village - it has infrastructure in place but no power. This village was declared electrified by the state in October 2015.

In March 2016, when it was visited by the GVAs, most of the households were claimed by REC to be receiving power, except for 80 households. In reality, there are only a few metered connections and people are bribing officials for letting them get illegal power through ‘katiya’ - as this paper reported. So on ground, the trail actually worked like this. The state prepared a DPR, forwarded to the centre which approved a sum of Rs 171 crore for Hathras, now Mahamayanagar district. In one year, poles got erected, transformers were set up and lines were connected to the feeder. Report was sent that the village was electrified. It wasn’t. The villagers who were used to not paying for years, continued to source illegal power. The local officials tired of convincing them, decided to make money. Jailing the residents for power theft won’t anyways be beneficial to anyone. They didn’t meter the houses. They took ‘monthly charge’ from the households for sourcing a certain amount of power, illegally. You get ‘bijli’, I get payment – a story of every village in the hinterlands, irrespective of whoever claims to have electrified it. Either the local MLA would promise you free power or the citizens would drive away electricity department officials who would come asking for power bills or installing meters. It's not the grid that needs to be powered. It's the system. Electricity supply has always been a political subject. And dark villages help fuel it during elections. Promises of free power for years has led to darkness. Cross subsidy for farmers is welcome, only if they pay for legal connection. Monthly bill would be lesser than what they are duped to pay for a ‘katiya’. But does anyone educate? No. Why? Informed citizens will then ask for rights, not freebies. And that's hard to provide. Keeping in dark, certainly has its virtues for the political class.

MONTHLY STAR

Business Standard Digital

Business Standard Digital Monthly Subscription
149.00  
subscribe
Complete access to the premium product
Convenient – Pay as you go
Pay using Master/Visa Credit Card & ICICI VISA Debit Card
Auto renewed (subject to your card issuer’s permission)
Cancel any time in the future
Requires personal information

What you get?

ON BUSINESS STANDARD DIGITAL

  • Unlimited access to all the content on any device through browser or app.
  • Exclusive content, features, opinions and comment – hand-picked by our editors, just for you.
  • Pick 5 of your favourite companies. Get a daily email with all the news updates on them.
  • Track the industry of your choice with a daily newsletter specific to that industry.
  • Stay on top of your investments. Track stock prices in your portfolio.
  • 18 years of archival data.

NOTE :

  • The product is a monthly auto renewal product.
  • Cancellation Policy: You can cancel any time in the future without assigning any reasons, but 48 hours prior to your card being charged for renewal. We do not offer any refunds.
  • To cancel, communicate from your registered email id and send the email with the cancellation request to assist@bsmail.in. Include your contact number for speedy action. Requests mailed to any other ID will not be acknowledged or actioned upon.

SMART MONTHLY

Business Standard Digital

Business Standard Digital - 12 Months
1499.00
subscribe
Get 12 months of Business Standard digital access
Single Seamless Sign-up to Business Standard Digital
Convenient - Once a year payment
Pay using an instrument of your choice - Credit/Debit Cards, Net Banking, Payment Wallets accepted
Exclusive Invite to select Business Standard events

What you get

ON BUSINESS STANDARD DIGITAL

  • Unlimited access to all content on any device through browser or app.
  • Exclusive content, features, opinions and comment – hand-picked by our editors, just for you.
  • Pick 5 of your favourite companies. Get a daily email with all the news updates on them.
  • Track the industry of your choice with a daily newsletter specific to that industry.
  • Stay on top of your investments. Track stock prices in your portfolio.

NOTE :

  • This product is a monthly auto renewal product.
  • Cancellation Policy: You can cancel any time in the future without assigning any reasons, but 48 hours prior to your card being charged for renewal. We do not offer any refunds.
  • To cancel, communicate from your registered email id and send the mail with the request to assist@bsmail.in. Include your contact number for easy reference. Requests mailed to any other ID will not be acknowledged or actioned upon.
First Published: Mon, August 22 2016. 08:52 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU