The budgetary allocation of Rs 16,000 crore for free electricity connections for four crore homes was largely welcomed by experts in Pune. The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana — Saubhagya — was introduced in September last year to provide energy access to all by last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining un-electrified households in rural and urban areas to achieve universal household electrification in the country.
Jayant Deo, former member of Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission, said the scheme was a welcome one. By providing new connections, efforts would be stepped up to provide better infrastructure, create a service line and other requirements. There is surplus electricity and this scheme would be a win-win for all including banks as it will help reduce NPAs due to better utilisation of installed capacity, higher household income of connected households and be a social good, Deo added.
The electricity connection to households includes release of electricity connections by drawing a service cable from the nearest pole to the household premises, installation of energy meter, wiring for a single light point with LED bulb and a mobile charging point. In case the electricity pole is not available for drawing service cable, the erection of an additional pole along with the conductor and associated accessories will also be covered under the scheme.
Vivek Velankar, president of Sajag Grahak Manch, said the scheme was a good one but raised doubts over four crore households being without electricity. “This is doubtful and while the connection is free, the affordability of electricity can become a critical issue just like in gas connections, where the cost of a cylinder is now expensive,” Velankar said.