Reiterating his commitment to deliver on the poll promise of electricity for all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Monday unveiled a flagship programme called “Saubhagya — Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana” to provide power
to all households in the country by December 2018. The announcement, made at the headquarters of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, would reinforce the ruling party’s electricity-for-all target, recently advanced from 2019 to 2018.
“Of the 250 million houses that India has, more than 40 million of the houses are electrified. Through Saubhagya, without taking money from the poor, electricity will be provided to these (remaining) families. For this,” PM Modi
said will unveiling the scheme.
The scheme was launched on the birth anniversary of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay.
Here are highlights of Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana
1. Last-mile electricity connectivity: The Rs 16,320-crore scheme aims at providing “last-mile electricity connectivity to all rural and urban households” by 31 December 2018.
2. While free connections will be provided to below poverty line (BPL) households, even those not covered under this category can avail it by paying Rs 500 in 10 instalments of Rs 50 each along with their monthly bill. Prime Minister Narendra Modi
said, "No money will be charged from any poor person for electricity connection. The government will give the connection at your doorstep"
3. An expenditure of more than Rs 16,000 crore will be required for the scheme. The Union government will provide 60 per cent of the funds, amounting to Rs 12,320 crore. For special category states, the Centre’s contribution will be 85 per cent.
4. With no subsidy component for monthly electricity consumption, the Gram Panchayat and public institutions in the rural areas will be authorised to carry out billing and collection tasks which have been pain points for the discoms. For those households where the national electricity grid can’t reach, households will be provided with solar power
packs along with battery banks.
5. By providing electricity access to all households with prepaid and smart meters, demand will be created which in turn will force the discoms to supply to these villages.
6. States have also been provided with an incentive of 50% of their loan being converted to grants, if the electrification
targets are met by 31 December 2018.
7. The beneficiaries for free electricity connections will be identified using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data.
8. The Opposition claimed that the 'Saubhagya' scheme announced by PM Modi
was nothing but repackaging of the UPA government's programme launched in 2005.
"The prime minister has once again launched an old scheme with a new name. A scheme, similar to Saubhagya, was launched by the UPA in 2005 and it was called Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyut Yojna, under which, by January 31, 2013, two crore five lakh people were given free power
connections," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
9. The government had in 2015 set a 1,000-day target to electrify more than 18,000 villages that didn’t have electricity. "Of the 18,000 villages, only 3,000 are without electricity now," PM Modi
10. Benefits of the scheme -
Climate change deal: The scheme will help India meet its global climate change commitments as electricity will substitute kerosene for lighting purposes.
Lighting, in turn, will also help in improving education, health, connectivity with the multiplier effect of increased economic activities and job creation.