ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Universal Electricity Access

Can Cooperatives Strengthen Electric Connections?

The National Democratic Alliance government has targeted to electrify all villages by the end of 2018. But simply establishing electric connections does not translate into adequate, affordable and good quality supply. This article examines the possibility of setting up rural electric cooperatives and assesses the successful examples in some other countries.

The government classifies villages as electrified if public buildings have electric connections and merely 10% or more of the village residences have connections, withholding concerns of supply quality and outages from theft or malfunction (Ministry of Power 2017). The government’s online energy dashboard reports that nearly 15,000 villages—covering around 80% of the population—have been electrified (REC 2017). However, only a small fraction—8%—of the electrified households have 100% connectivity. In fact, a recent study by Jain et al (2015) in coordination with the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW), revealed that 80% of rural households surveyed in Bihar have no (or extremely poor) access to electricity, despite the government reporting Bihar’s village electrification rate as 95.5%. At a macro-level, India’s per capita electricity consumption in 2014 was quite low at about 25% of the world average, and only 10% of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average (World Bank 2014). This suggests that there is a pervasive latent demand remaining unmet, despite climbing village-level “electrification”rates.

Electricity has clear multiplier effects for development outcomes, including health, education, and living standards generally. A recent World Bank study conducted over a 17-year period revealed that rural electrification led to increases in household consumption and wage work for men (Ravallion et al 2015). The provision of adequate and affordable electricity is therefore paramount to the country’s long-term development strategy.

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Updated On : 3rd Jul, 2021
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