There is now 100% village electrification in India, an important milestone in the country’s development trajectory. At the time of Independence, while the major global economies were completing electrification, India inherited what K. Santhanam, a member of the Constituent Assembly, called a ‘virgin field for electrification’. In response to the regional imbalances in electrical development, led largely by the private sector, the Constituent Assembly set the ground for public sector-led electrification in the country. But despite dedicated public agencies, a planned approach, a sustained political mandate and continued public spending by the Centre and States, India has been considerably slow in reaching the milestone.
Another important turnaround came last year when India claimed to be a net surplus and exporter of electricity (a scenario projected to continue for at least a decade). But do these developments mark an end to India’s energy poverty?
India continues to harbour energy poverty; 31 million rural households and about five million urban households are still to be connected to the grid — the highest in any single country. At the same time, a significant portion of connected rural households is yet to get adequate quantity and quality of supply. The Central government has set itself an ambitious target of connecting all remaining households by the end of March 2019 and made budgetary allocations to cover the cost of electrification. As part of a Centre-State joint initiative on 24×7 ‘Power for All’, State governments have already committed to ensuring round-the-clock supply to all households from April 2019. The aspiration for access to clean, reliable and affordable power for all is not free from barriers and fallibility. Read More