States to get soft loans for rural electrification

The Union ministry of power has urged states to do away with demarcations in rural electrification programme and focus on power for all. Piyush Goyal, minister for coal, power, new & renewable energy and mines, said states are may use any data to mark the households and provide electricity.

Speaking at the sidelines of the state ministers’ conference in Vadodara, Goyal said, “We have asked states to use funds allotted under rural electrification programmes for providing electricity to all rural households. And if more money is needed, Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) would provide soft loans.”

He said REC would give long term loans at low interest rates. “The idea is to give connection to all rural households and recover costs in next 10 years,” said Goyal. He added that most states have agreed to the proposition and the centre would look into the legalities.

“We have urged the states to look beyond definitions of above poverty line (APL) and below poverty line (BPL) and aim at power for all. Our sole commitment is to give 24x7 power. The definition of rural electrification can’t be changed but the aim would be to electrify 100 per cent households by March 2019,” said Goyal.

The Rural Electrification Policy in 2006 cites a village would be classified as electrified if the basic infrastructure is in place such as distribution transformer and distribution lines.

“Electricity is provided in the inhabited locality as well as a minimum of one Dalit basti / hamlet where it exists; and to public places like Schools, Panchayat Office, Health Centres, Dispensaries, and Community Centres etc. The number of households electrified is at least 10 per cent of the total number of households in the village,” said the Section 5.1 of the policy.

Of the 600,000 villages which are claimed to be electrified, more than half are yet to be ‘intensively electrified.’ It means electricity infrastructure is accessible to all in that village/district. It includes all the majra, tola, APL and BPL type of households that fall in the territory of that village. Close to 1.5 crore households are without any metered connection, as per government estimates.

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