More than 50 per cent of households electrified under the Central government’s ambitious Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Odisha. Uttar Pradesh, which will face Assembly polls early next year, has reaped the maximum benefits under the scheme by electrifying 91,80,571 households, which is 33 per cent of the total households.
Even during the pandemic times, Uttar Pradesh continued to implement the Saubhagya scheme and electrified 4,11,920 households in 2020-21. Electricity to households is one of the major political issues in the State.
Under the scheme, as on March 31, 2021, all the States reported 100 per cent electrification of un-electrified households, identified before March 2019. A total of 2.817 crore households have been electrified since the launch of the scheme according to data presented by the Ministry of Power to the Lok Sabha in August.
The Centre had launched the scheme in October 2017 with the aim of achieving universal household electrification by providing electricity connections to all un-electrified households in rural areas and all poor households in urban areas.
Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry received the least benefit as not even 4,000 households were electrified under the scheme as it is presumed that majority of households in these two States and UT are already electrified. In Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Mizoram, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh less than 50,000 households received the benefits.
Rajasthan ( 20,75,522), Madhya Pradhesh ( 19,84,264), Assam ( 19,45,149), Jharkhand ( 17,30,708) and Maharashtra ( 15,17,922) are among the top beneficiary States.
Hurdles in the scheme
Interestingly, the Ministry informed the Lok Sabha that it faced four major challenges while carrying out electrification. Households scattered in inaccessible and remote areas, difficult and hilly terrain, inclement weather, riverine / marshy / snowbound, transportation of material by head loading, helicopters, bamboo bridges, rafts, boats, etc. The Ministry also said in the Left wing extremism-affected areas some hurdles were faced from extremists and also forest clearance and Right of Way issues created challenges in executing the scheme.
Cost of project
According to the Ministry of Power, the total financial implications of the project was ₹16,320 crore while the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) was ₹12,320 crore. The outlay for the rural households was ₹14,025 crore while the GBS was ₹10,587.50 crore. For the urban households, the outlay stood at ₹ 2,295 crore while GBS was ₹1,732.50 crore.
“The government of India largely provided funds for the scheme to all States/UTs,” the Ministry said.