With an eye on polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced a new scheme to provide free electricity connections to four crore rural homes, saying there will be power in every village and every home in new India.
The decision would cost the government Rs 16,000 crore which will not be passed on to the poor, Modi said.
He said the connections would be delivered at the door of the rural poor for which they would not have to go after the government officials.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a function to launch “Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna” — the scheme for easy availability of electricity in every household — at the renovated ONGC Bhavan, renamed after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya.
“There are four crore families which do not have electricity, not to talk of bulb. No money will be charged from any poor person for electricity connection. The government will give the connection at your doortep,” Modi said.
“Not only every village, every house will also have power connection in new India,” he added.
The scheme is aimed at providing electricity connection to every household in the country by March 31, 2019.
Modi said he had to study in the light of lamp in his childhood and therefore, could understand the difficulties of four crore families that do not have access to power.
Women in families without electricity connections were forced to complete their work before sunset and could not venture out in evening hours, he said.
Citing Upadhyaya, the Prime Minister said the test of government policies was how they help the poor.
He said 15,000 of 18,000 villages had been electrified in the last three years and the remaining would be electrified soon.
During his address, Modi took veiled digs at the Congress, saying there had been reports of grid collapse and coal shortages during the UPA government.
“(Now) there is a new approach, new policies and multidimensional steps,” he said.
Modi said if India could reduce its oil imports by 10 per cent by 2022 and increase share of renewable sources of energy, it would result in substantial savings which could be used for social spending.