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Indicus Analytics: Power-less in Bharat

About half of rural households still depend on sources other than electricity for lighting

Indicus Analytics 

Expanding electrification is critical to economic and social development. Despite the implementation of large-scale programmes over the years, India’s achievement in providing access to electricity leaves much to be desired. According to the recent Census 2011 data, only 67 per cent of the total households use electricity as the source of lighting, the remaining still have to resort to other sources like kerosene.

It is discouraging to note that in the last 10 years, electricity coverage has increased by only 11 percentage points. The fundamental reason for this murky picture comes from the rural segment. In urban areas, almost 93 per cent of the households use electricity as the primary source of lighting, while the corresponding proportion in the rural segment is only 55 per cent. In absolute terms, about 1,200,000 households in India are devoid of any source of lighting of which 800,000 households are from the rural segments.

A disaggregate analysis of rural electrified households throws open the striking inequality that exist in the country. On the one hand, we have Union Territories like Lakshadweep and Daman and Diu with about 99 per cent of rural households having electricity, on the other, in Bihar, only 10 per cent of rural households use electricity as a source of lighting. (Click here for chart)

Source of lighting (%)
  Total Rural Urban
2001 2011 2001 2011 2001 2011
Electricity 55.8 67.2 43.5 55.3 87.6 92.7
Kerosene 43.3 31.4 55.6 43.2 11.6 6.5
Other source 0.5 0.8 0.6 1.0 0.5 0.5
No lighting 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.5 0.4 0.3
Source: Census, 2011

Apart from Bihar, the other states where less than half the rural houses are electrified are Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. Only 12 states and Union Territories in the country exceeded 90 per cent coverage. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi are some of the states with considerably high coverage of rural household electrification.

A comparative analysis between 2001 and 2011 reveals that very few states have shown a significant improvement in rural electrification. Uttarakhand is one among the few with a remarkable rise in coverage from only 50 per cent in 2001 to 83 per cent in 2011. Similarly, Andhra Pradesh saw a rise from about 60 per cent in 2001 to almost 90 per cent in 2011. A rise of more than 20 percentage points is also seen in West Bengal, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Kerala and Tripura. Yet, despite the significant increase, out of these seven states, only Kerala has crossed the 90-per cent coverage level, while the others still have a long way to go. For example, barely a third of Jharkhand’s rural households have electricity.

Madhya Pradesh has shown a marginal decline in the proportion of households that use electricity as the primary source of lighting from 62 per cent in 2001 to 58 per cent in 2011. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the two worst performers in terms of electricity coverage in 2001, increased their rural coverage by only four to five percentage points in the past 10 years.

In April 2007, the central government had launched an ambitious scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidhyutikaran Yojana, with the goal of electrifying all unelectrified villages or hamlets. However, these efforts have hardly shown results in certain parts of the country. The Census data have turned the spotlight on the regions that continue to remain in darkness — a stark reminder of the lopsided development in the country.

Indian States Development Scorecard, a weekly feature by Indicus Analytics, focuses on the progress in India and across the states across various socio-economic parameters. 

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First Published: Thu, March 29 2012. 00:25 IST