#PolicyExplainer: All you need to know about government's Saubhagya Scheme
Over the years, several schemes for electrification have been launched in India, yet, there are millions of households in the country without electricity. To address this issue, PM Narendra Modi announced Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or Saubhagya Scheme, with an aim to provide electricity to every Indian household, rural and urban, in Sep'17. Here's everything you should know about the scheme.
Scheme provides free electricity to rural households
The Saubhagya Scheme, launched by Power Ministry, aims to provide last mile electric connectivity to all rural and urban households at a cost of Rs. 16,320cr by Dec'18. Of the outlay, over Rs. 14,000 is proposed for rural households. All rural households, both BPL (Below Poverty Line) and APL (Above Poverty Line) families, and BPL families in urban areas can avail free electricity connections.
Who are the beneficiaries and how are they identified?
As mentioned earlier, Saubhagya scheme provides free electricity connections to all rural households and BPL families in urban areas. However, other households can get the connection by paying Rs. 500; this amount can be paid to the power distribution company in 10 installments along with monthly bills. Beneficiaries for free connections are identified using the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data.
What about households not covered under SECC data?
Households that are un-electrified but not covered under the SECC 2011 data may also avail electricity connections under the scheme. They will have to make a payment of Rs. 500 in 10 installments to DISCOMs through electricity bills.
What do the beneficiary households get?
Electricity connections to identified households include service cable line from nearest electric pole, energy meter installation, single light-point and mobile-charging-point wiring, free five-year repair and maintenance. They get five LED lamps, one AC power plug, and one AC fan. Un-electrified households in remote/inaccessible areas get 200-300 Watt solar power packs (with battery bank), 5 LED lights, one DC power plug, and one DC fan.
How can beneficiaries apply for the scheme?
Under the scheme, DISCOMs organize camps in villages for identifying beneficiaries and filling up of application forms. To hasten the process, ensuring on-the-spot registrations, modern IT technology with a web portal/mobile app is used. Gram Panchayats and other rural public institutions are also authorized to collect applications and complete documentation. Applicant's photo, address, a copy of address and identification proof, etc. would be collected.
What are the advantages of the scheme?
Saubhagya scheme can not only improve the lives of people in un-electrified areas but also help distressed power generating and distributing companies. Such companies can recover a chunk of their costs through new electricity connections and increased power demand. Also, the scheme can boost economic activity, improve education and create jobs (in remote, un-electrified regions), reduce pollution by curbing kerosene usage for lighting purposes.