The electrification of new households under the Central government’s Saubhagya scheme is not the only cause for a few major states recently reporting high aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, power minister RK Singh said on Thursday. The minister was speaking to the media after reviewing the progress of the states in the 100% household electrification scheme here on Thursday.
“All the new connections under Saubhagya are metered, reducing the scope for theft, but the billing and collection efficiency need to be improved,” Singh added. FE recently reported that states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand, which have electrified households at the fastest rate under Saubhagya have reported AT&C losses of more than 30% at the end of September.
It was pointed out at the meeting that if 100% household electrification is to be achieved within December, 2018, about 2.96 lakh houses are to be electrified every day from the ‘30 days moving average’ speed of about 70,000 per day. About 97.7 lakh households are left to be electrified in the country. The largest number of unelectrified households are in Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha.
Projects worth Rs 13,526 crore have been sanctioned under Saubhagya, out of which Rs 2,868 crore have been disbursed till date. Out of this, Uttar Pradesh has received Rs 1,124 crore. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Saubhagya scheme on September, 2017. The power ministry had reported the electrification of India’s all 5,97,464 inhabited villages in April this year. When the Modi government took over, there were 18,452 unelectrified villages in the country.
The minister said that few states have been facing supply issues for equipment like meters, poles and transformers. To enthuse power distribution companies (discoms), Singh has also announced rewards of Rs 100 crore to the entities which achieve electrification targets first.
As FE reported earlier, Uttar Pradesh has regularised a significant portion of the 35 lakh illegal connections in the state, but a lot of consumers are not willing to take new Saubhagya connections. Assam is anticipating further challenges in erecting poles in the paddy fields during the harvesting season. Rajasthan’s progress was impeded as it had to re-tender projects with the rise in average expenditure per household after deciding to connect more households through ‘off-grid’ mechanism.