• Electrical India
  • Aug 5, 2017

Hello and welcome once again to Electrical India. As I write this note, I am happy to inform that the ranking of the magazine site www.electricalindia.in (as per Alexa.com) has gone up by another 10% to 4,30,673 since last month.
A country’s growth is gauged by its electrification and the per capita consumption of electricity. India’s per capita electricity consumption is the lowest among BRICS nations. The per capita consumption of Russia is 6 times, China 3 times, South Africa 4 times and Brazil more than 2.5 times that of India.

This morning newspapers flashed headlines saying more than 37% of schools in the country have no electricity. This was the reply given by the minister of state for human resource development in the Rajya Sabha. Assam has 25% schools with electricity connection while Meghalaya has 28.54%. Others in the list include Bihar (37.78), Madhya Pradesh (28.80), Manipur (39.27), Odisha (33.03) and Tripura (29.77). That’s a sorry state of affairs. I spoke to Aruna Kumarankandath from the Centre for Science and Environment and she felt the definition of electrification itself is flawed.

The government defined electrified village differently prior to 1997 and after 1997. According to a criteria used by the power ministry after 2004, a village is considered electrified if electricity is provided in public places such as schools, dispensaries and at least 10% of households. So, a village can be considered electrified if 90% of its households do not have electricity. So there is a flaw in the definition of electrified villages.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to bring reliable power to all citizens during the campaign that propelled him into office in 2014, the same year the World Bank pegged India as home to the world’s largest un-electrified population. “How can we say a village is electrified if 90 percent of homes in an electrified village don’t get power?” asks Aruna, who feels the government’s definition of an electrified village doesn’t make sense. According to the data published by the power ministry as of May 16, 2017, while 73% of the 18,452 villages identified for electrification had power, only 8% of these villages had all their households electrified.

Even though India is the third largest market in terms of gross electricity generation, it still has almost 25 crore people, or almost a fifth of its population, without access to power. Energy and electricity growth will therefore become crucial for powering the country’s future. The challenge of 100% electrification can only be overcome through concerted improvements at various levels. Hopefully, the next data that comes out from the department concerned would be practical and not confusing.

Do send in your comments to me on miyer@charypublications.in