As many as 7.3 lakh households remain unelectrified in the country as they are still ‘unwilling’ to take electricity connections for their premises. As on February 28, the largest number of such un-willing households are in Uttar Pradesh (5.82 lakh), followed by Jharkhand (68.1 thousand) and Assam (45.4 thousand), according to a response in the Lok Sabha by Union power minister RK Singh.
Under the Saubhagya scheme, all states have declared electrification of all households on March 2019, except 18,734 households in left wing extremism affected areas of Chhattisgarh. At that time, there were 19.1 lakh un-electrified households which were unwilling to get electricity connection. Since most of the leftout households are in Uttar Pradesh, a parliamentary panel on energy has recently recommend the Union power ministry to coordinate and provide necessary assistance to the state if so required.
According to informed sources, most of the unwilling households use illegal power connections. The parliamentary committee has also recommended that the power ministry ‘should endeavour to lay underground cabling on priority basis in the areas which are highly prone to power theft’. Though underground cabling is eight to ten times more expensive than the normal wire laying process, power theft-prone Kanpur could recover the cost of underground cabling in just three years by reducing pilferage.
As many as 2.63 crore households were electrified across the country by FY19 since launch of Saubhagya in September 2017. The scheme had an outlay of Rs 16,320 crore, including a gross budgetary support of Rs 12,320 crore from the Centre. No upfront fee was needed for availing electricity connection under Saubhagya. While the poor households got the connection for free, Rs 500 was charged for other households, in 10 installments of Rs 50 each, adjusted in monthly electricity bills.