New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi fifth Independence Day speech carried the leitmotif of ‘performance,’ including a special focus on his government’s marque schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aimed at providing free cooking gas connections and the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or the Saubhagya scheme aimed at electrification.
In the run-up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections, PM Modi said had the work been done at the pace of 2013, before his government was voted to power in 2014, it would have taken another one to two decades before electricity could have reached villages.
This comes against the backdrop of the DDUGJY, which helped bring electricity to all of India’s 597,464 census villages on 28 April, setting the stage for universal household electrification.
Taking a dig at the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, PM Modi said that had the work been done at the pace of 2013, even 100 years would have been less in providing smoke-free cooking gas connections to poor housewives.
Earlier this month, the government met its target of giving 50 million liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to poor households without upfront charges under the Ujjwala scheme. Ujjwala is one of the Modi administration’s flagship pro-poor schemes and is considered the equivalent of the previous Congress-led UPA regime’s rural jobs scheme.
The programme, launched on 1 May 2016, aims to safeguard the health of women and children. While clean fuel protects them from the hazards of inhaling smoke, it also helps the poor avoid going to unsafe areas to collect firewood. The Ujjwala scheme provides financial support of ₹ 1,600 for each cooking gas connection to poor households.
PM Modi also referred to the nationwide electricity blackout in 2012 when on 31 July, the northern grid collapsed, and on 1 August, in a wider blackout, the northern and eastern ones too went down, leaving nearly 620 million people without electricity.
The government’s focus is on providing “24x7 clean and affordable power to all" by March 2019, for which the states are on board.
The PM also reiterated his government’s focus of providing “power to all" and “cooking for all." While the government earlier this year revised the target to 80 million under Ujjwala to address indoor air pollution, which accounts for nearly a million deaths in the country; it plans to provide electricity connections to 40 million Indian homes by December 2018 through Saubhagya.
PM Modi also mentioned about India taking the lead in combating climate change with the International Solar Alliance.
ISA is the first treaty-based international government organization based in India, with its first general assembly scheduled for October in New Delhi to coincide with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
As part of his government’s focus to improve farmers’ incomes, PM Modi referred to solar farming wherein the farmers can earn money by selling electricity generated from sunlight.
The government plans to launch the ₹ 1.4 trillion solar power pumps scheme named the Kisan UrjaSuraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) to improve farmers incomes and reduce dependence on diesel pumps that will help generate 28,250MW. Surplus electricity generated by farmers will be bought by state electricity distribution companies and will help boost the country’s emerging green economy.