Government needs to invest inelectricity distribution infrastructurewith focus on improving reliability and quality of supply while revamping the new electricity connection process with focus on non-household customers, said a report on electricity access in India.
The report, ‘Electricity Access in India and Benchmarking Distribution Utilities’ prepared by the NITI Aayog, ministry of power, Rockefeller Foundation, and Smart Power India has also recommended government enable direct transfer of subsidies, digitalize the metering, billing, and collection (MBC) cycle and enable capacity building of regulatory commissions to resolve utility viability challenges on account of widening cost coverage.
The report is based on a primary survey conducted across 10 states, representing about 65% of the total rural population of India and with a sample size of more than 25,000, including households, commercial enterprises and institutions and assesses 25 distribution utilities.
According to the report, as much as 92% of customers reported the overall availability of electricity infrastructure within 50 metres of their premises. However, not all have connections, the primary reason being the distance of households from the nearest pole, it said.
“Overall, 87% of the surveyed customers have access to grid-based electricity. The remaining 13% either use non-grid sources or don’t use any electricity at all,” the report said.
The report further says that the hours of supply have improved significantly across the customer categories to nearly 17 hours per day while nearly 85% of customers reported to have a metered electricity connection. As per the report, a total of 66% of those surveyed were satisfied, of which 74% of customers are in urban areas and 60% in rural areas.
“The report highlights the benefits of government-led schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, which have been well received in rural as well as urban areas,” NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said at the launch of the report on Wednesday.
According to Kumar, the key recommendations provided in the report in the areas of policy and regulation, process improvement, infrastructure and capacity-building of utilities would be gainfully utilized for improving the power distribution sector.
Commenting further on the recommendations, he said some of the recommendations are ongoing programmes of the government, but we would like the concerned ministry to expedite these to maximize the benefits.