Skip to main content

As 23% of India’s population is still thirsting for electricity, US foundation calls it a private business opportunity

By Our Representative
At a time when the Government of India (GoI) has claimed that 99.4% of the country's villages have been electrified, but the GoI's powerful thinktank electrification, Niti Aayog, has pointed out that there are 304 million people who still lack access to electricity in its draft National Energy Policy (NEP), released in mid-2017, top US business interests have begun to see it as an opportunity.
Dr Rajiv J Shah, current president of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), who served as administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2010 to 2015, has strongly pitched for "the fundamental role of public-private partnership to lift millions of Indian households out of poverty" by providing them electricity.
Shah was speaking at the India Energy Access Summit in Delhi on February 12, following which, a day later, he met Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar. At both the spots, he stressed on the need for strong private partnership in India to electrify the country's rural households, even as suggesting, this has been demonstrated by RF investing nearly $150 million over the last 20 years "to impact the lives of the most vulnerable people in India."
Regretting that in India a village is deemed electrified even if only 10 percent of homes and a few rural institutions are connected, the top US philanthropic organization, which is running Smart Power India project has "appreciated" that the draft NEP recognizes “a need to redefine the concept of ‘electrification’ with the village being deemed completely electrified if and only if all households of a village have an electricity connection, which witnesses reliable supply of electricity at least for a set number of hours”.
Meanwhile, a writeup published in RF site and published as a blog, which Shah particularly focussed upon, has said, "The hope is that the 'set hours, will cover daily needs", adding, "With 23% of India’s population still thirsting for electricity and millions more receiving only poor and unreliable access, it would seem that India needs to rapidly add generation capacity."
Dr Rajiv J Shah
"However", the RF blog says, "This too presents a contradiction, in that India has significant generation capacity idling, with an aggregate capacity utilization of about 60%. So why not just d https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/blog/24x7-power-access-not-electrification/ irect the unused capacity to meet rural demand? Problem solved, right?", it asked.
"Simply put, it is not viable to distribute the access to the people who need it. Rural electricity supply and service costs are prohibitively high, while rural demand density is low and fragmented", the blog says, adding, "Furthermore, pilferage and losses are high and the tariffs are well below delivered cost. This is a huge disincentive for India’s debt-plagued state-owned distribution companies (DISCOMs)."
"The challenge is so large that a portfolio of approaches needs to be tested and deployed", the blog opines, adding, "New models of electricity distribution are emerging. In nearly 110 villages across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand state, more than 40,000 people have access to reliable grid-quality electricity from privately operated renewable energy mini-grids supported by RF's Smart Power India programme."
Pointing out that the draft NEP has also stressed the "need to incentivize the mini-grid sector by encouraging independent developers and supporting them to scale", the blog stresses, "Privatizing electricity distribution has proven successful in some Indian metros in improving quality, reliability, collection and loss reduction."
It adds, "More private players can be attracted to scale up mini-grid deployment if the government announces a national target for mini-grids along with a package of incentives. More importantly, public-private partnership pilots for rural electrification need to be modeled and tested in partnership with existing state DISCOMs to address the access challenge."
"Such partnerships forged in rural electrification can unleash on a large scale innovative business models, new technologies and operational efficiencies to make a breakthrough in bridging India’s chronic energy access gap. It could help realize the national goal of “24×7 Power for All” by 2022", it believes.

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.