Gujarat tops in rural electrification; several states falter

August 10th, 2008 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) When it comes to electrifying villages, Gujarat shows the light. The laggards include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The state has achieved 147 percent more than the target set under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), the rural electrification scheme of the government.

An internal audit of the centre’s ambitious scheme says Gujarat electrified 1,236 villages during the 2007-08 fiscal against the target of electrifying 500 villages.

What worries power ministry officials is the slow progress of RGGVY in states like Bihar, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, and Uttar Pradesh.

“In the last fiscal, Bihar electrified only 3,841 villages against the target of 6,000, while Chhattisgarh could meet only 15 percent of the target,” said an official in the power ministry, who did not want to be named.

The progress of RGGV scheme is regularly monitored by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (S&PI), which has put Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana, West Bengal and Uttarakhand in the group of best performing states led by Gujarat.

“The poor response from Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra where only one, 37, 219 villages respectively were electrified against the target of 805, 1,050, 303 may prove a bottleneck in meeting the national target under the RGGV scheme,” admitted the official.

The rural electrification scheme named after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi envisages providing electricity to all households, electrifying around 115,000 unelectrified villages and giving connections to 234 million below the poverty line (BPL) households by 2009.

“Since the scheme was launched in April 2005, around 50,000 villages have been electrified till the last fiscal. The remaining villages have to be covered during the current fiscal,” an official in the ministry of S&PI told IANS, requesting anonymity.

The government has proposed to spend around Rs.55 billion on the execution of RGGVY in the current fiscal. The total estimated cost of the project is pegged at Rs.510 billion. It covers villages with a minimum population of 100 each.

India, Asia’s third largest economy, was faced with a power deficit of 73,050 million units during April 2007-March 2008.

The deficit of 73,050 million units was largely in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and Uttar Pradesh.

Said a government official: “There is a need to augment the country’s power generation capacity to meet the growing demand.”

The government has estimated that India will require an installed capacity of over 200,000 MW by 2012 to meet the electricity demand, which will be 60 percent more than what the country has at present.

About 26 percent of India’s installed capacity for electricity generation is from hydropower, and around 66 percent from thermal generation, including gas.

By 2020, India will require 400,000 MW of electricity. Energy is going to be required in a large quantity in view of rapid economic growth.

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