Bihar leads the race of states for electrifying villages under the Centre’s rural electrification programme.
In a tweet on Thursday, Union power minister Piyush Goyal said, “We electrified 12 villages in Bihar last week. After 68 years, they finally have power.” Of these, nine villages were in Katihar, two in Saharsa and one in Muzaffarpur. All these villages never had access to power.
Ever since the Centre-sponsored rural electrification scheme was launched in 2013, Bihar has so far electrified 1,497 out of the 2,732 villages, which had to be electrified. Work was under progress in 127 of the 1,235 villages, which remain to be electrified, while 80 other villages had been surveyed for initiation of work.
Odisha with 3,434 had the maximum number of unelectrified villages, followed by Assam (2,890), Bihar (2,732), Jharkhand (2,581) and Uttar Pradesh (1,529). Among these states, Bihar has registered the fastest progress, electrifying 1,497 villages. Uttar Pradesh has so far electrified 741 villages, while Assam has done 172 villages, Odisha 168 and Jharkhand 116.
With 514 days remaining for the completion of the scheme, the state government is moving ahead full steam.
In Katihar alone, 876 villages are yet to be electrified, followed by Saharsa (82), Saran (77), West Champaran (48) and Khagaria (35).
Among the unelectrified villages, there are 348 villages where off-grid solution has been mooted. The state government is working to provide solar power with generator back-up facility to 98 of these villages because of the geographical constraint in providing on-grid solution. A majority of these villages are on the beds of the Ganga and the Kosi rivers. The chief minister has set November 2017 as the deadline for providing off-grid solution to these villages.
As part of the scheme, the Centre contributes 90% fund while the state has to raise the remaining 10%. Under the revised Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana, the Centre gives 60% funds while the remaining 40% is to be borne by the states. However, as an incentive for meeting deadlines, the Centre converts 15% of the state loan into grant.
In another tweet, Goyal said Thursday, “Unlike older electrification definition of min(istry) electrification of 10% households, we aim to ensure electricity reaches all households by 19 (2019).”
The scheme entails full-scale electrification of unelectrified as well as partially electrified villages, besides providing free connection to the BPL.
Going a step ahead, the chief minister has now asked the Bihar State Power Holding Company Limited to provide free electricity connection even to those living above the poverty line, the cost of which would be borne by the state.