oppn parties Electricty To All Villages: Make it Meaningful

News Snippets

  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
  • Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress postpone meeting the governor of Maharashtra
  • Shiv Sena not to attend the NDA meeting on 17th November, says break up "a formality"
  • Shiv Sena says that the confidence the BJP is showing about forming the government in Maharashtra is based purely on its expectation of getting numbers through horse trading
  • Anil Ambani resigns as director of the bankrupt Reliance Communications
  • India beat Bangladesh by an innings and 150 rums inside three days in the first Test. Indian pacers excel after Mayank Agarwal's double century
  • Sena-NCP-Congress work out a common minimum programme, will form the government soon and it will last 5 years, says Sharad Pawar
  • Income Tax Appellate Tribunal upholds the decision to withdraw the charitable status of Young India, making it liable to pay Rs 145 in income tax. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra are the majority shareholders in the company
  • CBI raids offices of Amnesty International across India
  • Supreme Court quashes NCLAT order against Arcelor Mittal and paves the way for the company to take over ailing Essar Steel
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says concerns of telcos will be addressed and no company will close down
  • Government thinking of providing higher insurance coverage on bank deposits
  • Mayank Agarwal scores a double century as India take firm grip on the first Test versus Bangladesh
  • Supreme Court warns Rahul Gandhi to be more careful in future but drops contempt proceedings in the "chor" case
  • In a flip-flop, Vodafone CEO says sorry to the government, sys no plan to exit India
Supreme Court dismisses plea for review in Rafale case, says no need for roving inquiry, maintains clean chit to government
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Electricty To All Villages: Make it Meaningful

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
One can look at the claim of the government that all Indian villages have been provided with electricity in two ways. In the first case, one can pooh-pooh the claim (as the opposition and sections of the media have been doing) by saying that just hanging wires and poles does not qualify as providing electricity as long as current does not flow in those wires and homes in the villages are not connected to the pole. On the other hand, one can congratulate the government for putting in place the necessary infrastructure that will bring electricity to homes in remotest part of the country.

Obviously, providing access to electricity is a major and overriding prerequisite of providing electric connections. If the government has managed to provide access to electricity to almost all villages in India, it is an event that calls for celebration. For, modern-day life is overly dependent on electrical power for everything. That pole and those wires give the villagers a ray of hope. It is a huge step for them.

But the government must now train its guns on all that is wrong in the power sector if it hopes to provide early and useful connection to homes in villages. Subsidized and free power connections must end. Let the people pay for the power they use as the cross-subsidy from commercial users is making Indian industry uncompetitive. Further, losses due to these reasons are making state electricity utilities inefficient and incapable of undertaking further development. They cannot buy power, which in turn results in idle capacity in power plants. To make optimum use of installed capacity, state utilities must charge users in full and pay producers timely. Only that will ensure quality production and even distribution of electric power.

Then, although the government is focused on renewable energy sources (like solar, wind etc.) and has an ambitious programme to use them, a lot remains to be done in that area. The over dependence on coal-fired power plants has to reduce drastically, more so due to environmental concerns. India generates 76.5% of its electricity through coal-based plants while China has cut it to 56.4%. Similarly, while China has managed to use wind for 8.8% and solar for 4.6% of its power requirements, India lags behind with wind contributing 3.7% and solar just 1%. The government must work to ensure that wind and solar contribute at least 10% each of India’s power needs. There is also a case for increasing power generation through natural gas. Further, the government should allay the fears of both citizens and activists and can think of nuclear power plants.

But no infrastructure or generation will bring electricity to villages if the power sector is subjected to populist policies. The government needs to change its stance and ensure that use of power is paid for in full by all consumers for the wheels of production and distribution to run smoothly and for people to get uninterrupted and quality power supply. If any class of people (distressed farmers, for instance) need to be helped, that must be done in some other way rather than writing-off their electricity bills or providing them with free electricity.

image courtesy: hindustantimes.com