Manipur’s Leisang village became the last non-electrified inhabited village to join India’s mainline supply network at 5.30 pm on Saturday, a key milestone in the country’s journey towards universal electricity access.
This means that all 597,464 inhabited villages in the country now have access to power, fulfilling a promise the Prime Minister had made on August 15, 2015, when he announced that all unelectrified villages would get power over the next 1,000 days.
The last inhabited village to be powered through the offgrid system was Pakol, also in Manipur.
While basic infrastructure such as distribution transformer and lines need to be set up in inhabited localities, including Dalit hamlets, a village is considered electrified if 10% of its homes and public places like school and panchayat office have access to electricity.
Having fulfilled that promise, PM Modi took to Twitter in a big way. “28th April 2018 will be remembered as a historic day in the development journey of India. Yesterday, we fulfilled a commitment due to which the lives of several Indians will be transformed forever. I am delighted that every single village of India now has access to electricity,” he said in a series of tweets. While villages have the power infrastructure, it is now up to households to seek a connection and for state governments to ensure supply.
At the time of Modi’s announcement in August 2015, data showed 18,452 villages without power. When work on village electrification started, another 1,275 villages were found to be without access to electricity. Some 1,200 villages are uninhabited and 35 were notified as grazing reserves.
The real challenge now is to feed power to each household, a task being undertaken through the Saubhagya scheme. The seeds of 100% village electrification were sowed with Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana with a projected outlay of Rs.76,000 crore that Modi had launched on July 25, 2015. This scheme drew from Modi’s successful experiment as Gujarat chief minister to separate farm and household feeders in rural areas to ensure 24x7 power to households and assured supply to farmers.
One of the key objectives of the DDUGJUY was to achieve 100% village electrification. It also envisaged separating feeders, strengthening distribution network, metering at all levels and setting up micro grid and off-grid distribution networks.