Power, Skill Development Ministries join to scale up electrification drive

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New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) In a first of its kind institutional arrangement, the government on Tuesday launched a programme of skill development to speedily implement its Saubhagya scheme for universal household electrification with the Power and Skill Development Ministries joining hands for the purpose.

The two ministries are pooling their resources in this initiative to meet the target of the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or Saubhagya, launched last year aimed at providing power to all homes by March 2019.

“The power sector will be immensely helped by this. The lack of skilled manpower was standing in the way of Saubhagya,” Power Minister R.K. Singh said at a press conference here he addressed alongwith Skill Development Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

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Citing the example of his home state of Bihar where only a handful of homes were being connected on a daily basis, Singh said the pace of electrification required to be “speeded up”.

“For this we need skilled manpower, and not only for Saubhagya but also other programmes Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and IPDS (Integrated Power Development Scheme).”

While DDUGJY is designed to provide continuous power supply to rural India, the IPDS aims at strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution networks in the urban areas.

“We intend to spend Rs 1 lakh crore on skill development for these various schemes and we’ll need 5,000 lakh man-days to implement the programme,” Singh said.

He also said the technical training would be provided as per a drawn up calender at the district headquarters and mobile training camps are also being arranged.

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Noting that Saubhagya has the target of bringing electricity to four crore households by end-March next year, Pradhan said the power and skill development ministries of states are equal stakeholders in this initiative with the Centre.

“Of this Rs 1 lakh crore budget, 25 per cent has been set aside for wages and contractor margins,” he said.

“This is the first time such an institutional arragement has been made to scale up skill quality,” he added.

The programme will be jointly administered by the Rural Electrification Corporation and National Skill Development Council.

–IANS

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