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Saubhagya scheme: 40% households in UP reluctant to take free power

Aiming to provide electricity to each and every household by March 2019, the Modi government’s much publicised Saubhagya scheme is most likely to miss the target in the country’s biggest state where more than 33% households are yet to be given electricity connection.

lucknow Updated: Aug 21, 2018 12:51 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Saubhagya scheme,Uttar Pradesh,Free power
A large number of people are just not showing any interest in subscribing to free electricity connections despite the UP Power Corporation Ltd having pulled out all the stops to convince them to take one.(Representative image)

Aiming to provide electricity to each and every household by March 2019, the Modi government’s much publicised Saubhagya (Sahaj Pradhan Mantri Bijli Har Ghar Yojana) scheme is most likely to miss the target in the country’s biggest state where more than 33% households are yet to be given electricity connection.

Doubts are being expressed not only because of the huge number of unelectrified rural households that Uttar Pradesh has but also because a large number of people are just not showing any interest in subscribing to free electricity connections despite the UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) having pulled out all the stops to convince them to take one.

The authorities are by now sure that not more than 60% households will take electricity connections for varied reasons.

“Our assessment that is based on the regular feedback from the field is that 40% of the balance (unelectrified) households may not be ready to get electricity connections under the Saubhagya scheme despite our best efforts,” UPPCL chairman and principal secretary Alok Kumar said.

Of the total 3,76,55,707 household in UP, only 2,2487,787 households had electricity connections as on October 10, 2017 and the balance 1,51,67,920 households were unelectrified when the Saubhagya scheme was launched in the state on October 11, 2017.

Information gathered from the Union Power ministry’s Saubhagya dashboard shows that UPPCL has been able to distribute only 24,22,266 free electricity connections during the last 10 months and 1,27,45,654 households are yet to be given connections to achieve the target of providing power for all by March 2019.

According to Kumar, there are two types of people who are reluctant to take a free power connection.

“There are people in the electrified area that were already using electricity illegally and the second category is of the people who apprehend billing issues after they take a connection,” he explained.

He said there were families, especially in Bundelkhand, that pleaded that they did not require a power connection as they migrate to other cities for job and returned to home for two three months only.

“Also, there are families that have divided themselves in more than one households for the purpose of ration cards etc but want to take a power connection jointly,” Kumar said.

A senior official in the Agra discom said the resistance to taking electricity connection was largely from the villages that had been used to getting unmetered free power for political reasons.

“Last month, we held a camp at a village in Mainpuri district to distribute connections but of the 60 households that did not have power connections only 6-7 agreed to take one,” he said adding, “Now, we are planning a raid on that village.”

Sources said the target itself was too ambitious to achieve considering the fact that more than around 1.70 crore households were targeted to be electrified within 17 months.

“Even if 100% households agree to take electricity connections, it will be unlikely that UPPCL will be able to distribute so many connections,” they said.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 12:51 IST