There’s no better reflection of the divide between ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ than in households’ access to clean and convenient sources of energy for cooking and lighting purposes.
The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), in a recent report based on its 68th survey round undertaken during July 2011 to June 2012, has shown that only 15 per cent of rural households in India use LPG as their primary source of energy for cooking, as against 68.4 per cent in urban areas.
The predominant cooking fuel in rural India is firewood/chips, with as many as 67.3 per cent of households relying on this source in 2011-12. The proportion, moreover, hasn’t fallen significantly — from 78.2 per cent in 1993-94 and 75 per cent in 2004-05.
Urban India, on the other hand, has seen substantial change. In 1993-94, the percentage of households depending on LPG (29.6) was below those using firewood and chips (29.9). But in 2011-12, only 14 per cent of urban households used firewood/chips, while 68.4 per cent had LPG access. In rural areas, LPG penetration was very low, at 1.9 per cent in 1993-94 and 8.6 per cent in 2004-05, and remains low.
Even within rural areas, there is a deep divide between the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, which have a third or so households mainly using LPG, and the likes of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha with below 5 per cent penetration. Punjab and Haryana are interesting cases of states having significant proportion of households relying equally on LPG and dung cakes (see table)!
No less revealing is the data on lighting sources. 72.7 per cent of rural households use electricity as the primary source for lighting, while it is 96.1 per cent for urban India. In 1993-94, only 37.1 per cent of households in rural India were using electricity, while as many as 62.1 per cent were kerosene-dependent. There has, thus, been a significant replacement of kerosene with electricity for lighting up rural homes.
But even here, huge inter-state differences exist.
On the one side are the four southern states, plus Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat, where over 90 per cent of rural households have access to electricity. At the other end is poll-bound Bihar, which has just over a quarter of rural households using electricity in rural areas and a correspondingly high proportion relying on kerosene lanterns.
The same holds true for Uttar Pradesh, but not for Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh or Rajasthan (see table).
Interestingly, in urban areas of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the proportion of households using electricity for lighting is not disturbingly below national average, at 81.2 and 88.1 per cent respectively.
That only highlights the extent of the rural-urban divide.