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World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.
Giving full credit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the “great feat” of jumping 73 points, Goyal had said, this has happened because of the implementation of his “vision, particularly to take electricity to every home, particularly to make energy affordable is being furthered very rapidly.”
In a clarification, Elena Karaban, senior communication officer, South Asia, World Bank, said, “Indeed, India got ranked 26 on the Getting Electricity indicator in the Doing Business 2017 report. But the Getting Electricity indicator does not measure universal electricity access for all of the population in the country.”
According to Karaban, “The Getting Electricity indicator does not measure electricity accessibility of the general population. For instance, the affordability of tariffs or percentage of households connected to the grid are not measured,”
Citing the World Bank’s Doing Business team, which worked out the ranking, the World Bank official further said, the “rankings from different years cannot be directly compared because of the methodology change from one year to another.”
Notably, India ranked 130 among 190 countries on World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking for 2017 released last year (2016).
‘Power For All’ is a government initiative that includes industries, commercial entities and households. Launched in June 2014 after Modi came to power, it seeks to provide 24X7 electricity to all at an affordable price by 2018-19.
Government claim
The objectives of which include ensuring reliable 24X7 supply of electricity to all consumers which include industries and commercial entities and households, supply adequate electricity to farmers for irrigation which shall be for 8-10 hours, and electricity to all households by 2018-19.
However, in its “Doing Business” ranking, the World Bank only measures the ease at which a local business can obtain a formal electricity connection.
Significantly, the World Bank ranking is based on sharp improvement in getting electricity connection, leading to ease of doing business in two major cities – Delhi and Mumbai.
The World Bank’s Doing Business team reportedly says, “The utilities in both Mumbai and Delhi have actively reduced the delays and processes required for firms to obtain new electricity connections. In Delhi, it took 138 days to obtain a new connection in 2013, compared to 45 days today.”
Even a Union power ministry has officially concurred with this assessment, saying the ranking was based on parameters such as “number of procedures involved in getting electricity, the time taken by a consumer for obtaining a commercial electricity connection, the cost of obtaining a commercial electricity connection of up to 140 KVA and reliability of power supply.”
The Union power ministry does not say that the parameters include universal access of electricity in India.

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