As many as 78% of the 18,452 inhabitable villages the government set out to provide with power have been ‘electrified’. However, 92% of the 10,072 newly electrified villages include homes which do not have electricity.
On August 22, 2016, the government issued an update to say that 28 villages were ‘electrified’ last week (15th - 21st August, 2016), as part of the ongoing mission to electrify the remaining 18,452 un-electrified villages in India.
Last week, the government missed the quota, as an average of 252 villages must be electrified per week, 36 per day, in order to reach the newly pushed-forward completion target of March 2017. The target set out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was 1,000 days; the live updated government website says the deadline is March 2017, just over 200 days away.
As many as 34 villages have been electrified per day, on average, over the past four weeks, so the project is on track to reach its goal on time, just.
The electrification process is now being closely monitored by the Gram Vidyut Abhiyanta (GVA), or the Village Electrification Engineer; there are monthly targets to be reached, and a 12-stage electrification process has been established.
All 12 stages must be completed across 18,452 villages to make the scheme a success--a total of 221,424 milestones. Of these, 57% or 126,116 have been achieved, according to data on the government website.
Up to 32% of milestones achieved are in the last four stages of the 12-stage electrification process; 35% are in only the first four stages. Just 8% of electrification has reached the final stage, ‘handing over villages’, at which point the village is said to be electrified.
However, to say these villages will be ‘electrified’ is not to say all their residents will enjoy electricity, FactChecker reported in 2015. Only 10% of homes in a village are required to actually have electricity for a village to be declared 'electrified' by the ministry of power.
Of those homes truly electrified, quality of power is often an issue. Three-quarters of electrified homes in rural Uttar Pradesh received electricity less than 12 hours a day, IndiaSpend reported in October 2015.
The Ministry of Power's August 22 update said that the government has resolved to go on "mission mode" to complete electrification "in view of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi’s address to nation, on Independence Day". During this address, the PM cited Nagla Fatela, a village in Uttar Pradesh, as electrified, but it was since reported that the residents of the village did not have electric power, unless by illegal means.
(Moloney is a multimedia journalist and has a BA (Hons) degree from the University of Birmingham, UK.)
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