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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions needed for better implementation and sustainability of Slow- Running RGGVY in India

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In spite of having the world’s largest population, India has been doing a lot to receive consideration as an emerging and a rapidly growing economy. It has been facing a great demand of energy to maintain and raise its rank in the world to keep a balance between the population growth and economic development.

Here it is important to recall that more than 60 percent of India’s total population which accounts up to 114 million households, lives in villages. Most of these villages are deprived of access to and steady supply of energy. Planners in the government have been planning to fill this gap by generating more and more power. For this, projects have been formulated and still a large number of projects of power plants are in the pipeline to be added year After year. These power plants are to be based on coal -based conventional technology – big hydro projects and nuclear power projects. The whole country including our planners, knows the detrimental impacts of coal based projects.

In view of providing power supply to Indian villages the government of India initiated a plan entitled Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) in 2005 with the Ministry of Power as its nodal agency. The plan aimed to provide access to electricity to all households by 2010. The programme implementation was later extended to 2012 but observing the speed of implementation the government is now planning to incorporate it in the 12th Five Year Plan. The RGGVY has its focus on the development and extension of the centralized grid system to rural areas but the scheme has met a big failure. Let me quote directly the definition of electrification of villages from the website of the Ministry of Power, Government of India -
As per the new definition, a village would be declared as electrified, if:
1)  Basic infrastructure such as Distribution Transformer and Distribution lines are provided in the inhabited locality as well as the Dalit Basti hamlet where it exists.
 2)  Electricity is provided to public places like Schools, Panchayat Office, Health Centers, Dispensaries, Community centers etc.
 3)  The number of households electrified should be at least 10% of the total number of households in the village.

Now the scheme is being reviewed and suggestions from people are being invited in order to make improvements in the process of implementation of the scheme.

Rural Electrification work under Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojna RGGVY

Greenpeace, an International Non-government Organisation working in different sectors of the global environment in inclined to improve the condition of the energy supply in different states of the country starting from Bihar. It has introduced different programmes based on renewable sources of energy with the cooperation of local NGO. Recently the organisation initiated a social audit to enable energy supply process in some states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh etc. The result of the survey from Andhra Pradesh revealed following facts –

1.  The rate of electrification to supply electricity across the villages has been found good, but there is shortage of electric supply.
2.   Long hours of power cuts are a daily affair in villages and most during the peak hours.

3.  Shortage of power has resulted in no development for schools and healthcare centres. As a result schools cannot be equipped with computers, functional laboratory equipments for experiments and other educational technologies.

4.   The voltage in these villages has been recorded low most of the time. As such people in villages cannot run electrically operated appliances, nor can they establish small scale industries.

5.  Lack of reliable and quality supply of electricity erodes the possibilities of economic and commercial activities in villages and villagers have to move to district headquarters for their similar activities.

6.   In spite of being under the coverage area of the project many of the remote villages have not been electrified (reportedly).

7.   “People in the villages do aspire for a reliable and stable supply of electricity as they feel it would help them in various ways to improve their lives and livelihoods”.

By having a steady supply of electricity villagers can think of increasing productivity. It would increase their working hours and empower them.

9.   They do feel that having decentralised models of energy generation would be able to provide them longer hours of electricity.

10.  People in villages think that a steady power supply would help their children study for longer periods and would ensure their villages have health centres and stock of medical supply.

11.Villagers and Panchayat Heads feel that there have to be locally managed electricity systems which would enable people to take charge of their energy needs.

   Observing the inferences from the extensive survey of the electrified villages in Andhra Pradesh, the Greenpeace has presented following policy recommendations –

1.   Rapid uptake of small scale renewable energy generation (grid connected and offgrid) units in non-remote areas is needed to ensure quality generation of electricity and supply at local level.

2. Mandatory provisions have to be made for involvement of Panchayat Raj Institutions for better implementation and sustainability of the scheme.

3.   Provisions need to be made for energy requirement for irrigation and medium and small scale industries.

4.   Embedding the social audit component in the scheme is necessary to enhance accountability of the implementation system.

Thus, though very late, still if the government is determined to implement the scheme in full spirit it should opt for technologies based on renewable energy sources and the system of power generation should be at local level to make it sustainable. In this view the recommendations of the Greenpeace are acceptable in all respect to empower Indian villages to contribute their maximum in the development of the country.

Key Words : RGGVY,Panchayati Raj Institutions, Grid system,coal based technologies 
Photo credit :Credit :www.indiamart.com

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