New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said the government was committed to provide round-the-clock electricity supply at affordable prices to backward and rural regions of the country.
“Ensuring quality 24×7 electricity at affordable prices to backward regions and the poorest of the poor citizens in rural India is the prime focus of my government,” Goyal said while releasing a study here.
The study “The Access to Clean Cooking Energy and Electricity – Survey of States” was conducted by policy research institute, Council of Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), in collaboration with Columbia University.
It revealed that despite 96 percent of local villages being electrified, only two-thirds of rural households have electricity connections and only half of them receive more than 12 hours of electricity a day.
“The study provides a holistic approach to analyse the deep distress to rural India due to poor electricity access and could be the handbook for all future discussion on this topic,” Goyal said.
Though 96 percent of villages were electrified, it was crucial to note that this does not equal to electrification of households, he said.
The study covered more than 8,500 households, 714 villages and 51 districts, across Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Except West Bengal, the state of electricity access in the states surveyed remained poor, it said.
According to the study, with 300 million people relying on kerosene for lighting, access to electricity is still a significant challenge to India’s development.
“The study reaffirms that along with education and clean drinking water, household electrification is accorded the highest priority by rural households. Central and state governments must extend their focus from providing a connection to the household, to ensure a decent level of duration of supply, quality and reliability in electricity service,” CEEW chief executive officer Arunabha Ghosh said.
Key findings on Electricity Access:
* Even though 95.5 percent villages are electrified, only 68.6 percent of rural households have electricity connection across the six states.
* Only half the rural households receive electricity for over 12 hours a day. This is as high as 97.5 percent for West Bengal and as low as 23.5 percent for Uttar Pradesh.
* Proportion of rural households receiving 4 or more hours of evening supply varies from 93 percent in West Bengal to over 70 percent in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha to less than 30 percent in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
* 65 percent of electrified households face at least one blackout day in a month.
* 64 percent of electrified households in Bihar use kerosene as primary lighting source.
* 78 percent of rural households expressed preference for subsidy on solar lanterns in lieu of subsidy on kerosene.
Key findings on Cooking Energy Access:
— Despite 22 percent of rural households having a LPG connection, 95 percent of rural households across six states continue to use traditional fuels such as firewood, dung cakes and agricultural waste for cooking, resulting in prolonged exposure to the health hazards posed by indoor air pollution.
–For nearly 6 percent of rural households, amounting to nearly 22 million people, the severe lack of fuel availability adversely impacts the amount of food cooked.
–In Uttar Pradesh, nearly 70 percent of the households have to buy a part or all of the biomass required for cooking. Across the six states, 56 percent of the households have to do the same.
–Median monthly expenditure of households that buy traditional fuels (Rs.563) is more than that of households relying exclusively on LPG (Rs.385)
–95 percent of households cite affordability of LPG connection as the main limiting factor to not adopt LPG. Other major barriers are high recurring costs and lack of LPG distribution in rural areas.
–The median distance that a typical rural household has to travel (one way) to get their LPG cylinder is 6 km. The median distance varies from 3 km in West Bengal to 11 km in Madhya Pradesh.