No Free Electricity Under ‘Power For All’ Scheme

Power ministry comes out with FAQs on ‘Power For All By 2019’ scheme.

An electricity pole provided under the Deendayal Upadhyaya rural electrification scheme (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)
An electricity pole provided under the Deendayal Upadhyaya rural electrification scheme (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Consumers won’t get free electricity under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Power For All By 2019’ scheme. Poor households will get free connections but will have to pay for consumption, the power ministry said.

The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana-Saubhagya triggered a debate on whether it is a repackaged version of an earlier plan that aimed to provide power to all villages. Former power secretary Anil Razdan told BloombergQuint that the scheme is a decade old. Earlier, it was focussed on electrifying villages, and now “after having spent tens of thousands of crore, we’ve finally decided to take it to every home”, he said.

To dispel concerns, the ministry released FAQs. Here’s what it said...

What’s the objective of the scheme?

To provide electricity to all remaining un-electrified households in rural and urban areas.

What’s included?

Electricity connections by drawing a service cable from the nearest electricity pole to the house, installation of energy meter, wiring for a single light point with an LED bulb and a mobile charging point.

How is it different from two existing schemes?

The Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana is about creating basic electricity infrastructure in villages while the Integrated Power Development Scheme is for urban areas. Among villages electrified in the past, many households still don’t have power connections as they couldn’t pay initial connection charges. Likewise for poor households in urban areas. The Soubhagya scheme targets to plug such gaps and address the issues of entry barrier and last-mile connectivity.

How will the scheme be implemented?

Project proposals shall be prepared by state distribution companies and sanctioned by an inter-ministerial monitoring committee headed by secretary. The electrification works under the sanctioned projects shall be executed by discoms/power department through turnkey contractors.

How will it impact demand?

The scheme aims to bring 4 crore households into the electricity network. Considering an average load of 1 kilowatt per household and average use for eight hours a day, India will need additional 28,000 megawatts or 80,000 million units a year.

What’s the breakup of households that could benefit?

Of the 4 crore un-electrified households, about one crore below poverty line in rural areas are already covered under the Deendayal Upadhyaya scheme. The ‘Power For All Scheme’ is expected to cover the remaining 3 crore – 2.5 crore in rural areas and 50 lakh in urban areas.

What about areas with no grid lines?

For households located in remote and inaccessible areas, solar power packs of 200 to 300 watt and a battery back with 5 LED lights, 1 DC Fan, 1 DC power plug along with repair and maintenance for five years would be provided.