Rural power: a neglected area
Emerging India needs balanced growth. The focus of growth plans should not be
only on urban development but also on the overall development of the country,
primarily villages and small towns. One way to achieve this is to make rural
areas self-sufficient and one of the primary steps in this direction is rural
electrification. The effect of rural electrification is multidimensional; for
instance, it will result in poverty removal, create income and enhance rural
Alternative sources of energy or biofuel can meet the bulk of the energy
requirement in rural India. Similarly, various methodology and technique are
available that can make rural electrification programmes viable and ensure good
rate of return on investment. The rural sector is deprived of energy because its
demands are not projected by a concerted pressure group.
The energy scene does not inspire much confidence. Add to that the rural-urban
energy divide. The issue assumes a grim dimension in light of the disparity in
energy sharing, setting up infrastructure for power and laying electric lines.
The standard refrain now is that there is a paucity of resources. This argument,
however, flies in the face of the fact that a mere 7 per cent of all energy used
globally can cover the demands of power in rural areas.
Today, in India, as many as 81,660 villages in 13 states are yet to be
electrified. It is estimated that Uttar Pradesh tops the list of non-electrified
rural zone (NERZ) with 24,162 villages coping with no power scenario. This forms
30 per cent of the NERZ in the country. Bihar is second with 16,668 villages
constituting 20 per cent of the NERZ. Together the two states constitute half of
the national non-electrified rural zone. In the last five years, these two
states have faltered in concentrating at reducing the number of NERZ. Bihar
electrified a paltry 43 NERZ whereas, Uttar Pradesh has electrified 943. At the
sane time, states which have power surpluses should have grid networking to
offload power to the non-electrified rural zone.
[01 May 2006]