Mail received from Press Information Bureau
This is with reference to the story titled “Modi government electrified 100% households in 25 states – by slashing targets” published by Scroll.in.
The Ministry of Power, Government of India has responded to this story. It is requested that this response please be published at your portal prominently.
Thanks and Regards,
Deputy Director (Media & Communications)
M/o Power & New & Renewable Energy
Press Information Bureau
This is the full text of the clarification by the ministry:
Clarification regarding the number of households electrified under Saubhagya
The Government of India launched ‘Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana’ (Saubhagya) in Sept. 2017 to achieve the goal of universal household electrification in the country by 31st March 2019. The scheme envisages last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining households. The Government is implementing the Scheme with the support of State Power Departments / State DISCOMs and the projects are being executed by the concerned State Power Departments / State DISCOMs.
At the time of launch of the Scheme, the States reported that about 4 crore households were un-electrified as on 10.10.2017. This was an estimate based on census figures. The States uploaded their data on Saubhagya portal (saubhagya.gov.in) created for the purpose of regular monitoring of the progress on household electrification under the scheme. Data is uploaded on the portal by the State Power Departments / State DISCOMs regularly based on field reports of progress of household electrification under the scheme.
When the electrification teams of the States went to the villages, they found that the number of houses left for electrification in most villages was less than that estimated by them. This was mostly on two counts –
(i) many census households were living together and availing electricity services together with single connection, and
(ii) many households have already availed connections in the process of village electrification and intensive electrification under ongoing scheme of Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and States’ scheme.
As more and more villages were visited by the teams, the figures of the houses to be electrified and those electrified were updated on the basis of actual.
It may be reiterated that the Government is committed to providing electricity to each and every willing household in the country. All States have been requested to launch a special campaign in all parts of the State to identify any left out un-electrified households and to provide electricity connections to such households. Under the campaign, a special vehicle ‘Saubhagya Rath’, is moving around in villages/towns and any left out households may approach them to avail electricity connection under the scheme. A dedicated toll free helpline 1800-121-5555 has also been launched for the purpose of reporting any left out households. This is in addition to already existing helpline of 1912. Governance is all about providing the services to the citizens.
Mridula Chari, author of the Scroll.in story, responds:
The Ministry of Power does not refute the central argument of the story that the original target “as of October 2017” was reduced, as shown on the Saubhagya dashboard, which is publicly available data released by the government in the interest of transparency.
According to the Ministry of Power’s response, there are roughly two reasons for targets for household electrification being reduced. One is that census households were living together and shared electricity connections. The other is that several households had already been targeted by the Centre’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana and schemes run by the state. Scroll.in had mentioned these, among other reasons, as possible explanations for declining targets. However, without more data, it is still not possible to ascertain how many households have in fact been left out for either reason.
The response does not explain how targets reduced anywhere from 40% to 81% in India’s largest states, even as it says that the “Government is committed to providing electricity to each and every willing household in the country”. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, the target reduced from 1.98 crore to 74 lakh. The ministry’s response does not explain how many of the 1.24 crore households removed from the target cohabited with the other 74 lakh households, how many had received electricity connections from other schemes, or indeed how many were unwilling to receive electricity connections. With such high reductions in target, it is difficult to take this explanation at face value.
The Joint Secretary and the Director in charge of Saubhagya did not respond to detailed questionnaires sent to them by email a week ago. Nor did the chief minister, spokesperson or additional spokesperson of the Uttar Pradesh government reply to emails sent earlier this week. The emails asked for precisely this information.
Finally, the Centre is conducting a special campaign in all states to identify any unelectrified households. If 100% electrification has indeed been achieved, it is unclear what its targets will be under this campaign, without clearer data on exclusion and target reduction. As of now, the Ministry of Power has not yet informed the public whether it has even gathered this information.