Tribune News Service
Jammu, September 9
Fourteen years after the state started the ambitious project to provide electricity to all, nearly 2.6 lakh households are still living in darkness.
The figure could be more because electrification, as per the Central government’s definition, means that if 10 per cent of households in a particular village and hamlet are provided a power connection through off-grid (solar or diesel gensets) or on-grid (connected with power grid station), they will be termed ‘electrified’ in papers.
Rural electrification was one of the components of the Rs 24,000-crore development and reconstruction plan announced by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2004. Electrification of all villages was to be achieved by 2007 and connections to all households were to be completed by 2009.
Ironically, even ambitious schemes like Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government, have also failed to bring any change in the lives of people living in far-flung areas of the state due to slow decision-making process.
The BJP was a part of the coalition government with the PDP in J&K for three years but it failed to achieve the desired results. Under the gram jyoti yojana, an amount of Rs 616.59 crore was allocated for 10 districts of Jammu, nine districts of Kashmir and two districts of Ladakh but this amount was not fully utilised. There are about 20 lakh households in J&K and the total population is 1.25 crore.
Nodal officer for ‘Power for All’ scheme in J&K and power development department’s executive engineer Sanjay Sharma said since 2017, the department has covered 1.2 lakh households bringing down the figure from 3.8 lakh using off-grid solar lights.
“We have a set target of November to provide power to all. The focus is on using solar energy to light up homes. Every week, thousands of solar lights are being provided,” he said.
When contacted, former Power Minister Sunil Sharma said, “The rough terrain is a major challenge. During my tenure, we covered 102 villages which had not seen power during the last seven decades but connecting all households with electricity remains a challenge.”
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