New Delhi: The Assam government, which had announced that all the households in the state have had a power connection since the end of March this year, said in parliament that two lakh households had not been electrified on that date.
The minister of state for power, R.K. Singh, told the Lok Sabha on November 28 that the state government had “reported electrification of all households on the Saubhagya portal on March 31, 2019.”
Under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar-Saubhaya announced in 2017, the Centre aimed to provide electricity to all households.
Though in April 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared that electrification in all inhabited villages in India had been completed, it didn’t mean the electrification of all households. This was due to the power ministry’s definition of 100% electrification.
A village is termed electrified if only 10% of its households have power connections and if electricity is provided in public spaces like schools, health centres, panchayat offices etc. Therefore, even as Modi declared India 100% electrified, the government’s data itself showed that 31 million households across the country were without electricity.
However, the Assam government declared that all households in the state were electrified. The power minister later said that “there are two lakh un-electrified households, identified before March 31, 2019.”
The official reason the BJP-led government gave to the Centre then, as revealed by the minister to parliament, was that those households “were un-willing to take electricity connection earlier, but are now willing.”
The ministry had then, according to Singh, asked the state government to electrify those households under the Saubhagya scheme. “Out of these, 65,979 households have already been electrified up to October 31, 2019.”
The power minister said that the centre has sanctioned projects worth Rs.927.87 crore under Saubhagya to the state besides allocating Rs. 1493.57 crore “as additional fund under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) to enable electrification of all households under Saubhagya”.
He further said, in a written reply to the queries put up by Rajdeep Roy, BJP MP from Assam’s Silchar constituency, that the state was also sanctioned Rs 1,535.29 crore under DDUGJY “for various works related to rural electrification including energy access”.
The minister, though, didn’t reply to Roy’s query about whether the government proposed to sanction additional funds for electrification of every household in the state’s Cachar district.