File Photo
File Photo

New Delhi: Sunday was yet another ‘historic’ day, according to the Modi government. India, it is claimed, has electrified all its villages 12 days ahead of a deadline set by Prime Minister Modi — an accomplishment that would be touted by the BJP in the run up to the general election.

India, despite its rapid strides in industrialisation, has been hampered by the lack of cent percent electrification in rural areas. But PM Modi said on Sunday that April 28 would be remembered as a “historic day in the development journey of India”, when a remote village in the northeast became the last to be connected to the power grid. “Yesterday evening, we fulfilled a commitment due to which the lives of several Indians will be transformed forever!” Modi wrote on Twitter, as various ministers in his government took to social media to congratulate him.

The last village in question is Leisang in central Manipur’s Senapati district. “Leisang village in Manipur, like thousands of other villages across India, has been powered and empowered! This news will make every Indian proud and delighted,” PM Modi added. Government data shows that all of India’s 597,464 census villages have now been electrified. When PM Modi assumed office in 2014, there were some 18,452 villages without electricity.

But just because all villages are connected to the grid does not mean all villagers have access to power. The government considers a village electrified if it has basic electrical infrastructure and 10 percent of its households and public places including schools, local administrative offices and health centres have power. Also, taking electricity to every doorstep remains a challenge. Even in villages that have had electricity for long, many houses may not have power. The reasons are numerous – very poor families may not have the funds for connection charges or BPL cards that would make it free; lack of awareness of procedures are other issues.

The government is trying its best to plug these holes. The World Bank had said in a report last year that globally 1.06 billion people had no electricity, with India and Nigeria topping the list of most power-deficient countries.Soon after PM Modi’s claim, many took to twitter to complain that their villages are yet to be electrified. Opposition Congress grabbed the opportunity to launch an attack on the BJP-led government and PM Modi with spokesperson Randeep Surjewala comparing figures from the UPA days to those of the NDA government.

He wrote: “Dear Amit Shahji, India has 649,867 villages. Congress connected 97% with electricity. During UPA (2004-14), Congress electrified 107,600 villages. In 60 years, the Congress average is electrifying 10,000 villages per year. Congress created Powerful India but didn’t boast!”In another tweet Surjewala wrote: “Dear Modiji/Piyushji, on 26th May, 2014, only 18,452 villages were without electrification. BJP government took 46 months to complete this at an average of 4,813 villages per year. This is ‘’celebrating inefficiencies’ & taking ‘fake credit’ for Congress work.”

THE TRUTH ABOUT ELECTRIFICATION

The government considers a village electrified if it has basic electrical infrastructure and 10 percent of its households and public places including schools, local administrative offices and health centres have power.

So, even though 100% electrification of villages has been achieved, govt data shows there are still 31 million households without electricity.

Also, taking electricity to every doorstep remains a challenge. Even in villages that have had electricity for long, many houses may not have power.

The reasons are numerous – very poor families may not have the funds for connection charges or BPL cards that would make it free; lack of awareness of procedures are other issues.

Urban centres are still afflicted with power shortage, with industries having to cope with blackouts and hospitals forced to rely on diesel-run generators for backup.

The World Bank had said in a report last year that globally 1.06 billion people had no electricity, with India & Nigeria topping the list of most power-deficient.

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