New Delhi: The ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s ambitious plan to provide electricity to 23 million below poverty line (BPL) households through its Rajiv Gandhi rural electrification programme has hit a roadblock, with Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa yet to finalize even the list of such so-called BPL households.
“Incidentally, these states have the maximum number of BPL population. Since the utilities are yet to get the list from the state governments, they have not been able to make any headway. This is an usual practice on the part of the states as they want to cater to their vote bank politics. In the absence of the BPL list, we cannot do much,” said a Union power ministry official who did not wish to be identified.
Slow progress: A lone light post in an unidentified village.(Photo: Hindustan Times)
Meanwhile, less than two million BPL households—of 23 million targeted households have been electrified.
Launched in April 2005, the programme is part of the Bharat Nirman project to develop rural infrastructure, at an initial project cost of Rs1.76 trillion. The Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd (REC) is the nodal agency for rural electrification.
The number of such impoverished people are estimated by each state, under 13 guidelines developed in 1992 by a task force set up by the rural development ministry. According to estimates of the Planning Commission, there are between 226 million and 282 million people under the poverty line in India.
The states say either lists have been sent or are on their way. Surendra Kumar, chief engineer, Uttar Pradesh Power Corp said, “The utility has provided a partial list to the REC. We are now asking the working agencies to prepare the list in a week and then submit it.”
“We have finalized the list on 29 January. However, I am not sure whether it has been sent or not,” a Bihar state government official who did not wish to be identified said.
While relevant Jharkhand officials couldn’t immediately be reached, an Orissa state government official, who did not wish to be identified, insisted: “We have already submitted the list to the REC office at New Delhi and in Bhubaneswar.”
The programme has an outlay of Rs28,000 crore in the 11th Plan period, but has already been affected due to the delays in funding and shortage of transformers, conductors, poles, insulators, and people.
“Preparing the BPL list is a very state specific thing. While on one hand, there are proactive states, such as Gujarat, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, who have done so, on the other are these states. Based on this work, the funds get released to the states. Ironically, the same states, which need the maximum funds, do not have the institutional capability to the preparatory steps for the funds and end up getting less resources,” said Arvind Mahajan , executive director at audit firm KPMG.