KHERI: As per the Saubhagya scheme’s online dashboard, Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh would perhaps qualify as the ‘dark spot’ of India as it has the most number of un-electrified households in the country at 5.35 lakh.
A missing electricity line to the primary school in Rehua village of Kheri, despite existence of electricity poles inside the school compound, however tells another story. “People of the village stole that line in the night some months ago to use it for drawing an illegal connection.
The school has no electricity now and children have to study in the open,” the school’s teacher says, not wishing to be identified. In fact, many houses in this village have electricity, despite the Saubhagya dashboard saying 376 out of 469 households in Rehua are still to be electrified under Saubhagya
Most people have illegal connections. Why to take a metered connection? We won’t be able to pay the bill,” villager Ram Naresh told ET. This reluctance to take a formal connection for fear of paying for power explains why not even a single connection has been released in Rehua under Saubhagya for a year, as per the dashboard.
There is a 25 KVA transformer and about 500 meters of transmission lines here but not many takers for a connection.
“A team of power officials did come few days ago but returned,” the teacher said.
Transmission losses are very high in Kheri district and its record under ‘Saubhagya’ is woeful – releasing just 55,000 connections so far with just 10% progress towards the PM’s target of fullelectrification by December 31. In Devi Purva village, where the dashboard shows 1092 out of 1246 houses are un-electrified, villagers claim non-supply of meters is the issue. Only 35 connections have been released here so far but most houses seem to have power. “I got a metered connection and paid Rs 2,200 as bill for three months. Many can’t,” says a local, Ram Shekhar Verma.
An official of the Madhyanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd, the discom, claimed they had made UP government aware of the issue but said there was lot of pressure from the state government to convince people to take a metered connection as power theft could bring penal action. Kheri has 5.35 lakh pending connections. This is out of 96 lakh pending connections in UP
A senior UP power ministry official said ‘Saubhagya’ success was also key to ensure transmission lines reduce to manageable levels in UP and its discoms are able to come out of the red. “Power Minister Shrikant Sharma has promised that districts where line losses come to below 15% will get 24X7 power come March 31, 2019,” a senior state official said.