ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Will ‘Saubhagya’ Suffice?

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the scheme, Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or “Saubhagya,” to provide all “willing households” in rural and urban India electricity connections. The scheme has an outlay of over₹16,000 crore, and is expected to cover 40 million families by December 2018. The Saubhagya initiative correctly identifies two major problems plaguing India’s power sector: overstressed electricity distribution companies (Discoms) facing high supply costs; and poor households facing high costs of power connection and supply.

Saubhagya aims to achieve last mile connectivity, a problem with roots in the inefficient management, billing, and metering system at the level of individual households and villages in India. The lack of access to electricity stems from the fact that most households do not have the required money to pay for the electricity connections and/or for the subsequent electricity bills. While the first problem is resolved by the central government’s announcement of free electricity connections to all, the second problem remains unresolved to a certain extent. Inefficient billing practices and electricity theft continue to plague the power sector in India. While the government has promised to set up prepaid and smart metering systems for the households to be covered under the Saubhagya scheme, the initiative effectively leaves out those households which are electrified but are still running on older versions of electric meters or paying flat bills for hefty power consumption. Besides, the idea of sustainable and clean energy access becomes redundant if the consequent increase in power demand is met through a proportionate increase in the use of coal-fired power plants.

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Updated On : 17th Nov, 2017
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