With an aim to provide electricity to over four crore families in rural and urban areas by December 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana ‘Saubhagya’, a Rs 16,320-crore scheme ushered in for the upliftment for the underprivileged section. “Rs 16,000 crore will be spent to bring a monumental change in the lives of the poor,” Modi said while launching the ‘Saubhagya’ scheme in New Delhi. The government is aiming to provide electricity to all households, a year ahead of its earlier target of March 2019.
The list of benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana is as follows:
*Access to electricity to all willing households
*Substitution to kerosene
*Improvement in educational services
*Improvement in health services
*Improvement in communications
*Improvement in public safety
*Increased job opportunities
*Better quality of life, especially for women, in daily chores
Under the scheme, the power connection will be provided free of cost to all poor families. PM Modi said the situation has now changed and that the nation is moving from a scenario of power shortage to surplus. As per an official statement, the total outlay of the ‘Saubhagya’ project is Rs 16,320 crore while the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) is Rs 12,320 crore. The Centre will also provide large funds for the scheme to all States/UTs.
The government will use Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data to identify the beneficiaries for free electricity connections. Un-electrified households not covered under the SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs 500 which will be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 installments through electricity bill.
The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited will remain the nodal agency for the operationalisation of the scheme throughout the country. In 2015, PM Modi had announced to electrify the remaining 18,452 unelectrified villages in 1,000 days in his Independence Day speech. The Power Ministry, however, is expected to electrify all habited villages by December this year.
(With PTI inputs)