The ongoing blame-game has finally been put to rest and States will no longer be able to shy away from their responsibility of providing electricity connections to all households in villages across India.
In a landmark decision, the Union minister of state for power (Independent Charge), coal, RE and mines, Piyush Goyal on Thursday asked all states to go ahead and provide 100% metered electricity connections to all households irrespective of their being classified as Below the Poverty Line (BPL) or a Above The Poverty Line (APL) household.
Simply put, once electricity reaches a village, all households in that village should be provided with a electricity connection.
Goyal also told the states that funds should not come in the way of giving electricity connections to any household in a village and announced that while BPL families will be provided free connections, low cost funds with long tenor of 10-15 years will be made available to states by the central PSU- Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) for providing electricity connections to APL families.
The decision was given on the spot by the Union power minister at the ongoing two day state power minister’s conference in Vadodara (Gujarat).
The union power minister was clearly in no mood to relent and so when a state power secretary mentioned that even for free electricity connections to poor households (that costs around Rs 3000 a connection), the BPL data is very old and that the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) data giving the number of such households (which is higher than the BPL data) is more accurate, Goyal gave an immediate decision and told states to use any data that they want to for providing electricity connections to the rural poor.
“Have told states why are they stuck in this wasteful exercise or number game of BPL families….you (states) should go ahead and give electricity connections based on any data (BPL or SECC) that you consider as appropriate…don’t worry about how I handle the legalities of changing this figure at the Centre– which can be it through a cabinet decision or otherwise….you (states) just give 100% connections to all households after electricity reaches a village,” Goyal added.
“If it is a BPL family, a free power connection should be given and if it is a connection for the APL family, they should not stop and give connections to them also……Just like for the BPL families, I have told states that even for APL families, they should work out an average cost for providing electricity connections– that could be Rs 3000, Rs 4000 or even more.”
Stating that funds will not pose a constraint in this exercise, Goyal said he has told the states that whatever it costs to give these 100% electricity connections can be utilised first out of the funds being provided to states through central schemes of power ministry and then through the cheap loans that will be made available to states by REC at lower interest rates.
Goyal said he has urged all states that electricity connections to households should not be stopped in the garb of “how much money is required to give electricity connection to a particular home…..rather the amount of expenditure incurred in taking electricity to a APL household be worked and recovered over a longer time.”
“States should give 100% connectivity to all households….I told the states that a decision has been taken and they can simply go ahead and implement it,” the minister said adding that this will also reduce corruption and theft of power. He cited examples of states like Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat which are 100% electrified.