New Delhi: The Union government is unable to allot funds for rural electrification to several states because they haven’t yet notified their power plans for the countryside, further delaying an ambitious federal programme.
The power ministry, which is overseeing the programme known as the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, or RGGVY, has also warned the states that it won’t allocate the funds if they fail to meet the October-end deadline to notify their rural power plans.
Pending notification: Power lines at Gahigad village in Uttar Pradesh, the state with one of the largest rural power programmes in the country. The Centre cannot disburse funds under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana unless the states notify rural power plans in their gazettes. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
Only eight states have so far notified their plans, meeting an earlier deadline in August this year. They include Gujarat, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, Nagaland and Chhattisgarh.
The Centre cannot disburse funds under the programme unless the states’ rural power plans are notified in their gazettes.
Launched in April 2005, RGGVY is one of the United Progressive Alliance government’s showpiece programmes. Under it, the Union government provides 90% of the capital cost involved in rural electrification of the states, with the balance extended as loans from the state-owned Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd, or REC.
While the distribution equipment in the countryside across the states will be set up using RGGVY funds, the rest of the power system in the states—power generation and transmission—has to be developed by the states.
“What is the use of putting all that equipment on ground if states do not put in their part? This may lead to situations when the efforts go waste. While 19 states have submitted their rural electrification plans, only eight have notified it,” said a senior Union power ministry official, who didn’t wish to be named.
Even as the states work out their plans, they are not bound to implement them unless they are notified in the states’ gazettes.
J.N. Chamber, principal secretary for the Uttar Pradesh energy department, said there is a “little problem” in the implementation of the scheme. “There is some confusion in the number of villages to be targeted. It is being clarified,” Chamber said. Uttar Pradesh has one of the largest rural electrification programmes in the country.
The scheme, which is already facing problems, is expected to reach a little more than half the 125,000 villages it sought to cover by the deadline of March 2009, as reported by Mint on 24 July.
Under RGGVY, the Union government has disbursed Rs10,000 crore till date and has an additional allocation of Rs5,500 crore to make during the 11th Plan (2007-12).
The scheme has a target of providing electricity to 23.4 million so-called below poverty line (BPL) or poor households. Of this, only 51,000 villages, with 3.4 million BPL families, have been electrified.
The electrification scheme had an initial total outlay of Rs5,000 crore. From April 2007 until 3 January 2008, no further funding had been allocated.
“Electricity is a concurrent subject. Though it is necessary for the government to give a deadline, this deadline may be extended due to the state’s own priorities and political compulsions,” said K. Ramanathan, distinguished fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute.