*RGGVY: Turning the Wheel of Rural India
**Smt. Gargi Malik
“......And I too have a dream, I dream of an India- strong, independent, self reliant and in the front rank of the nations of the world.....”
Above lines express the vision that the late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi had of a developed India. Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) which reflects this vision was launched in April 2005 so that rural and urban India could become one in thier expression of developed India. RGGVY envisages inclusive growth for the nation by bridging the rural-urban divide. The programme aims at developing the rural electricity infrastructure and household electrification to provide access to electricity to all rural households. For this programme, electricity is not just a medium to lighten the villages but also a tool to enlighten the minds and souls of rural population by helping them come out of darkness, low levels of development, low literacy levels and non-availability of basic facilities.
As per 2001 census, 1.19 lakh villages and 7.80 crore households were un-electrified in the country. A large portion of population was still living in darkness. It was in this background that the RGGVY was launched with the objectives of electrifying all villages and habitations; providing access to electricity to all rural households; and providing electricity connection to Below Poverty Line families free of charge.
Under Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), 576 projects targeting to electrify 1.10 lakh un/de-electrified villages and intensive electrification of 3,48,987 partially electrified villages have been sanctioned in the country. In addition thirty three projects in 33 districts have also been sanctioned under Phase-II of the RGGVY. Further, thirty six supplementary projects have also been sanctioned under Phase-II. The Bharat Nirman target of electrification of 1 lac unelectrified villages and providing free electric connection to 1.75 crore BPL households has already been exceeded by achievement of electrification of 1,03,611 villages and 1.91 crore BPL households as on 22 March, 2012. Under the scheme, besides electrification of un-electrified BPL households financed with 100% capital subsidy as per norms of Kutir Jyoti Programme, provision also exists to provide access to APL households, who are required to pay for their electricity connection at prescribed connection charges for obtaining household connections. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing Remote Village Electrification Programme for providing financial support for lighting/ basic electrification in those remote un-electrified census villages and un-electrified hamlets of electrified census villages where grid extension is not found feasible by the State Governments and are not covered under the RGGVY.
The implementation process of the scheme involves preparing a district based detailed project report for execution on turnkey basis. Then Central Public Sector Undertakings are involved in the implementation. Gram Panchayat is involved in the certification of an electrified village.
The Infrastructure under RGGVY includes - Rural Electricity Distribution Backbone (REDB) with 33/11 kV (or 66/11 kV) substations of adequate capacity and lines to be established in blocks where these do not exist; Village Electrification Infrastructure (VEI) which involves electrification of un-electrified villages and habitations. There is a provision of Distribution Transformer of appropriate capacity in villages or habitations; and Decentralized Distributed Generation (DDG) based on conventional and non-conventional energy sources where grid supply is not feasible or cost effective.
Under RGGVY electric connections are also provided to un-electrified public places like schools, panchayat offices, community / health care centres, dispensaries, etc. Providing power to rural areas means all round development of these areas by promoting education, health care facilities, computerisation, telecommunication, online access to land records and access to new technology in agriculture. Moreover, Khadi and village industries also get a boost with the access of electricity.
RGGVY, thus, acts as a means of social and economic inclusion in the rural Indian society. The scheme is helping in creating rural employment and slowing down the rate of migration to urban areas.
Here is what the villagers of Golaghat district of Assam said about how the scheme transformed their lives:
“Attacks by wild animals were common in my village. Before the electrification, we used to spend the nights in fear. Elephants would destroy houses and tigers would kill cows and goats. After the electrification attacks by wild animals are rare as the lights keep them away.” ...........An old lady from village Halowa NC, Kaziranga
“Now our children can study in the evening and I can work in the kitchen even late in the nights.” ..........A housewife from village Haatikhuli
“Earlier villagers had to go to the nearby town just to get mobile phones charged which consumed the whole day... now they can charge it at home. After electricity came, number of mobile connections has also increased many times in my village. I have opened a mobile repair shop and my income has also gone up.” ...........Ali, Village Rongbong
It has been proposed to continue the RGGVY during the 12th Plan with 90% capital subsidy. During the 12th Plan the scheme will aim to cover all remaining habitations irrespective of population and BPL households. It is also proposed to enhance BPL load from the range of 40-60 Watt to 250 Watt and to provide LED in each BPL household. The 12th Plan also proposes to have a separate new scheme for productive loads, mainly agricultural loads.*Director (Media & Communication).