UPPCL falling short of Saubhagya targets, extended scheme to close on December 31Updated: Dec 04, 2019 22:47 IST
The UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) has failed to meet the targets under the extended Saubhagya scheme either because not many rural households are showing interest in taking power connections, even if free, or because the very infrastructure required to provide a connection is still not in place in many villages, people familiar with the matter said.
The Centre agreed to reopen the Saubhagya scheme in the country for a limited period after states, especially Uttar Pradesh, approached it with the request for the same to provide electricity connections to the rural households that were left out for any reason during continuation of the scheme between October 2017 and March 2019.
The extended scheme will close at the month-end. The UPPCL had fixed a target of giving electricity connections to 12 lakh (1.2 million) willing rural households under the scheme by the end of December 31, 2019.
The scheme seeks to give free power connections to below poverty line (BPL) families and in easy instalments to others to achieve the goal of universal electrification.
“Not more than two lakh (200,000) power connections have been issued so far under the extended Saubhagya despite all the publicity,” those in the know of things said, adding, “It (the corporation) may give another one or two lakh connections by the month-end.”
Energy minister Shrikant Sharma, who held a meeting to review schemes here on Monday, reportedly expressed dissatisfaction over the progress of the Saubhagya scheme and directed the UPPCL management to release all the connections people have already applied for.
“The rural families that did not take a power connection last time are not very keen this time either. This is because many of them are used to electricity through katiyas while others feel they are too poor to pay the electricity bills that will follow free power connections,” sources said.
Some people, they said, were also apprehensive of harassment by the department once they fell in their ‘net’.
The scheme, which sought to provide electricity connection to each and every household, was launched nationally in September-October 2017 with UP giving more than 1 crore new connections to as many ‘willing families’ under the project. The scheme closed on March 31 this year.
It was estimated that 20-25 lakh households did not take electricity connections under Saubhagya for various reasons defeating the government’s power for all plan.
The Saubhagya was re-launched in August to cover the left out rural households.
“But the interesting thing is that many villages or localities within villages do not even have the required infrastructure in terms of poles, cables, transformers etc,” the sources said.