Electrification of Villages through Renewable Resources
Power is among the most critical components of infrastructure, crucial for the economic growth and welfare of nations. The existence and development of adequate infrastructure are essential for sustained growth of the Indian economy. India is the world's third-largest producer and the third-largest consumer of electricity. Villages are the backbone of the nation’s development, and for India’s continuous growth it is vital to electrify villages with renewable resources to maintain a balance between economic and environmental development.
The concept of Electrification of Villages is encouraged by the Electricity Act, 2003. An Electrified Village is defined as “a village that shall be electrified and used by the local inhabitants which are within the revenue boundary of the village.” Under Part II of the Act, it is expressed that it is the Centre and State governments’ joint responsibility to consult with each other and to prepare and provide notification regarding electrifying rural areas using non-conventional energy (Section 4).
Through National Electricity Policy 2005 and Rural Electrification Policy 2006, the Central Government announced Rural Electrification as the key to national development. Since then the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC), a Governments’ Agency is continuously working as a financial, administrative, and coordinating agent between the Central Government and Ministries to efficiently develop rural areas.
The reality of Electrified Villages in India
The government has announced “Power for all by 2022”, which is an ambitious target to strengthen the backbone of Indian socio-economic development that comes majorly from rural settlements. The main object of this agenda is not only to electrify villages but to electrify them through Renewable Resources, keeping in mind the environmental development. India is witnessing rapid demand for power mainly due to high-tech developments which are leading to over-exploitation of Non-Renewable Resources.
Remote Village Electrification Programme (RVEP) is a flagship program of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. It strives to aid the electrification of villages and hamlets that are un-electrified using non-conventional resources. Affordable and environmentally friendly solar lanterns and solar home systems play a major role in bringing brightness in the lives of Indian villagers. Gujarat became the first state in India to electrify all its 18,065 villages mostly using Renewable resources in thirty months through its Jyotigram Yojna within the investment of about Rs. 15,000 crore.
Unfortunately only 67.3% overall electrification has been achieved, about 19,909 villages have to be electrified all over India according to the progress report of village electrification as on 31-01-2015 as per 2011. Due to some challenges such as High costs for providing electricity in villages, volatile demand of energy sources in small settlements, theft of Electricity, and Non-uniformly electrified villages, some Villages remain un-electrified.
It is the need of the hour to rationalize and enlarge the definition and ambit of Electrified Villages and to use renewable resources so that environmental balance is not compromised and villages are electrified in affordable and durable ways. Also ensuing are a few changes required that has been recommended by Standing Committee of Energy:
According to the current definition, a household is determined to be electrified if it is 10% electrified. It is recommended for the Government to declare that households can only be determined to be electrified if it has an electricity connection of at least 80%.
Village electrification policy is only available to below poverty line (BPL) houses. It is recommended to make changes in the policy to also include above poverty line (APL) houses that cannot afford electricity connection.
Transformers and distribution lines which are basic structures should be made available to at least one hamlet / Dalit Basti as applicable within the revenue boundary of the villages.
Therefore to reach the ideal agenda of “Power to all 2022” it is vital to bring in changes in the workings and existing provisions of policies.
Moving with fast pace High-Tech advancements and Economic developments, it is necessary to understand that rural settlements and environmental developments have to be kept in mind by the Government and other administrations. Renewable resources are the best methods for electrifying villages as they are affordable and durable. Non-uniformly electrified households require urgent utility so that the necessities of citizens of the nation are met as soon as possible.
Riya Kumar is currently pursuing B.A.LLB from Delhi Metropolitan Education affiliated to GGSIP University.
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Edited By: Swathi. Ashok. Nair
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