The government's focus is on providing electricity connection to every household in the country under the Saubhagya scheme instead of achieving a set of numbers, Power Minister R K Singh said on Thursday.
He asserted that the target of 100 per cent electrification would be achieved by December 31.
Addressing media persons here at the states' review and performance meet, Singh also dismissed contentions that household electrification has led to an increase in aggregate, technical and commercial losses of power distribution utilities.
"Target is every household. We are not saying so many. We are saying every household. Earlier states set estimates based on census figures and other data. But now it's not a number. It is every village, districts... it will be a major achievement. The World will notice it," Singh told reporters.
He further said, "We believe that we can complete achievement of our target (of 100 per cent household electrification) by December 31, 2018 (against the target of March 31, 2018)."
Giving details about the scheme, he said about 21 million households have already connected and eight states have achieved 100 per cent saturation (in household electrification)-- Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Mizoram, Sikkim, Telangana and West Bengal.
Asked about states doing a good job under the Saubhagya scheme have higher aggregate, technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, Singh replied, "The AT&C losses increase is not linked to Saubhagya. That is not true. There is increase in power demand which is over 10.5 per cent. Today the demand is 10,000 Mw more than that of year ago."
When asked about such incidence in Uttar Pradesh, a state official explained and said, "The power demand has increased to 20,000 Mw. In the first seven months (this fiscal) till October, UP's energy loss is minus 1.59 per cent compared to last year. The losses are commercial because billing needs to be improved in rural areas. Saubhagya is not the cause of increase in losses. The peak load in state is 20,400 Mw at present compared to 18,300 Mw year ago."
Talking about states close to achieving the goal, he said that states that are close to achieving 100 per cent household electrification are Maharashtra, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. "Chhattisgarh will be electrified except three districts of Sukma, Bijapur and Bastar."
Some states were already 100 per cent electrified, inlcuding Gujarat, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab and the Union Territories.
Elaborating further he said, "There are many states which have huge numbers. We have also decided that if those states complete by December 31, we will not only commend them but also will also give them reward. We are coming out with policy for that."
He exuded confidence that there are other states -- Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Nagaland and Meghalaya -- which would complete the task by December 31.
The minister also directed the state officials that the states who have completed 100 per cent household electrification, will run vehicles to announce that for next 15 days as it will help find left out families.
Bihar is one such state, which is running a vehicle to make announcements under Saubhagya scheme.
About Uttar Pradesh which has a tall order he said, "One discom is fully saturated in Uttar Pradesh and other is going to complete by tomorrow. 36 districts have been saturated (in UP). The state has already completed 6.2 million households and 8 to 8.5 million left. Maharashtra has only 3,000 households left for electrification in one district."
Saubhagya Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana' was launched in September 2017 with the objective to provide access to electricity to all the remaining households in the country.
For creating healthy competition amongst various DISCOMs/power departments of states, an award scheme has been instituted with awards of more than Rs 3 billion.
The states completing 100 per cent household electrification by December 31, 2018, will also receive additional grant of 15 per cent of the project cost (5 per cent for special category States) sanctioned under Saubhagya.