Saubhagya, Ujjwala push up electricity, LPG usage in the North

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Nov 21, 2018
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2 flagship schemes improve rural households’ access to power, LPG

The dependence of rural households on grid electricity for lighting and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking has increased significantly over the past three years in six States that were previously seen as “energy-access deprived”, helped by two flagship programmes of the Union Government, an independent study has found.

The launch of Saubhagya scheme to expand the reach of electricity to all homes and the Ujjwala scheme to make LPG cylinders accessible to rural households that were primarily using biomass have ensured that about 84 per cent of homes in villages in these six States were connected to the electricity grid and 58 per cent had access to the cleaner cooking fuel by October 2018. At the national level, 95 per cent of the households were electrified by November, according to the estimates of the Union Government. The improvement in access notwithstanding, erratic supply of electricity and voltage fluctuations as well as high cost of LPG cylinders continue to be impediment for increased use of cleaner energy.



Significantly, the dependence on kerosene as the primary source of lighting has sharply declined from over 50 per cent households in 2015 to less than 20 per cent this year, as 80 per cent of the homes now use grid electricity and solar home systems or lanterns for lighting needs. In 2015, only 44 per cent of the households were dependent on electricity and solar sources for primary light needs.

The adoption of LPG as cooking fuel has been relatively slow, and just about 37 per cent of the households in these States use it as a primary fuel for cooking and 19 per cent as the only fuel. Yet, it represents a significant progress as only 14 per cent of the households were using it as their primary fuel and five per cent as the only fuel, when the 2015 study was done.

The study, referred to as ‘Access to Clean Cooking Energy and Electricity – Survey of States’ (ACCESS), was conducted by the independent think-tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water with the support of Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and the National University of Singapore in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha, first in 2015 and again in 2018. Being a panel survey, the same or about the same 9,000 households were contacted for both rounds of the study in 756 villages across 54 districts of these States.

Improvement in metering

The ACCESS study also found that the metering of power had improved from 53 per cent of all electrified households in 2015 to 65 per cent now in these six States. Jharkhand was the only one seen to be lagging, only 21 per cent of the households were metered. Uttar Pradesh had made significant progress to cover about 50 per cent of the households.

On LPG, the study found that the distribution network had expanded between 2015 and 2018, with a higher proportion of rural households in the six States getting home delivery now compared to three years ago. Still less than 50 per cent of the rural households in these States, excluding West Bengal, were getting cylinders delivered at home. Jharkhand had the lowest proportion of rural households at 22 per cent receiving home delivery of cylinders and that number remained static over three years. In West Bengal, about 79 per cent of the rural households were getting delivery, up from 61 per cent in 2015.

Published on November 21, 2018

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