Home / Politics / Policy /  Survey set to gauge success of govt electricity schemes

NEW DELHI : The union power ministry plans to commission a socioeconomic survey by a third party agency of its marquee schemes aimed at universal access to electricity, seeking to capture what improvements have been made by these projects.

Economists say there is a strong link between poverty eradication and the spread of electricity use.

The survey will focus on the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), said two government officials aware of the plans.

While DDUGJY has ensured village electrification, Saubhagya resulted in the world’s largest household electrification drive, with the scheme funding the cost of last-mile connectivity to ‘willing households’. It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017. The two schemes resulted in an increase in electricity demand. “The survey will be done by a professional agency and the monitoring will be done by the union power ministry. The plan is to capture data to ascertain improvement in beneficiaries’ lives," said one of the two people cited above requesting anonymity.

Electricity reached all of India’s 597,464 census villages on 28 April 2018 through the DDUGJY with the scheme involving feeder separation, strengthening of the sub-transmission and distribution network, metering at all levels, and setting up of micro grid and off-grid distribution networks. In 1950, only 3,000 Indian villages had electricity.

The success of DDUGJY set the stage for Saubhagya for providing the architecture through which the government seeks to reduce import of fossil fuel and meet its climate change commitments.

Queries emailed to a power ministry spokesperson on 2 June remained unanswered till press time.

“Schemes like ‘Saubhagya’ have done fairly well in terms of connecting people to the grid and providing access to electricity. However, the actual implementation is something which may vary from state to state as they are the ones implementing the schemes on the ground," said Vikram V., vice president and sector head, corporate ratings, ICRA.

He said implementation of the schemes also depends on the financial position and debt status of state discoms. “Although steps have been taken to reduce discoms’ dues, they have not declined as expected. Better financial status of the discoms will help in better implementation of schemes in the sector," he added.

This survey comes in the backdrop of India’s electricity demand picking up after a dip during the second covid-19 wave, with the peak electricity demand met touching a record 210 gigawatts (GW) on 9 June. According to the Central Electricity Authority, by 2030, the country’s power requirement will be at 817GW.

“All-India power demand was up 18.6% year-on-year during the quarter (Q1 FY23) and peak demand at 216GW was 6.3% higher year-on-year. Daily peak power demand for Q1FY23 averaged 196GW (versus 187GW in Q4 FY22)," ICICI Securities Ltd wrote in a 10 July report.

The government is lining up an ambitious plan for the power sector as part of its Vision 2047 to meet the enhanced energy demand to drive economic growth, while ensuring access to cost-competitive, reliable and clean electricity, as reported by Mint.

This includes improving corporate governance practices of state owned electricity distribution companies (discoms), making tariff cost effective, reducing cross subsidies and shortening the power purchase agreement duration from 25 years.


Utpal Bhaskar

"Utpal Bhaskar leads Mint's policy and economy coverage. He is part of Mint’s launch team, which he joined as a staff writer in 2006. Widely cited by authors and think-tanks, he has reported extensively on the intersection of India’s policy, polity and corporate space.
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