Prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched an Rs 16,320-crore scheme – Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) – to provide electricity connections to over 40 million families in rural and urban areas by December 2018.
“Rs 16,000 crore will be spent to bring a monumental change in the lives of the poor,” Modi said while launching the Saubhagya scheme here on the birth anniversary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhaya. The prime minister regretted that even after 70 years of independence 40 million out of 250 million families did not have access to power.
Under the scheme, the government proposes to provide electricity to all households by December 2018, ahead of the earlier target of March 2019. All villages would be electrified by December this year ahead of the scheduled deadline of May 1, 2018.
“This is a reflection of working style and will power,” Modi said adding, power connection will be provided free of cost to all poor families under the scheme. He said earlier there used to be breaking news regarding power outages and shortage of coal to power plants but now situation has changed and the nation is moving from a scenario of power shortage to surplus.
The prime minister also called upon Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to use its Rs 100 crore startup funds to develop user-friendly electric cooking appliances saying it would help in reducing the fuel consumption. He called upon the young minds to come up with electric cooking device that he said would save more than electric cars.
He took on the UPA government for messing up the power sector and showed comparative satellite pictures taken by NASA of India at night in 2012 and 2015. The prime minister said India under his government was shining bright against the image of 2012 when it was plunged in darkness. According to an official statement, the total outlay of the Saubhagya project is Rs 16,320 crore while the gross budgetary support is Rs 12,320 crore.
The outlay for the rural households is Rs 14,025 crore while the gross budgetary support is Rs 10,587.50 crore. For the urban households the outlay is Rs 2,295 crore while gross budgetary support is Rs 1,732.50 crore. The Centre will provide largely funds for the scheme to all states/Union territories. The beneficiaries for free electricity connections would be identified using the socio economic and caste census 2011 data.
However, it said that un-electrified households not covered under the SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs 500, which shall be recovered by power distribution companies (discoms) in 10 instalments through electricity bill.
The solar power packs of 200-300 wp with battery bank for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible areas, comprises of five LED lights, one DC fan, one DC power plug. Beneficiaries shall be identified and their application for electricity connection along with applicant photograph and identity proof shall be registered on spot, the statement said.
The Rural Electrification Corporation will remain the nodal agency for the operationalisation of the scheme throughout the country.