After a long meeting with his colleagues in BJP, Prime Minister Modi announced the launch of yet another “New Scheme” named Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana called as Saubhagya. The scheme communication posters (in which Mr Modi Looking down at you from the top left corner) says “Access to electricity to all WILLING households” followed by other benefits of the programme.
To understand the meaning of “willing households” we have to understand the scheme itself and find out what is new here other than this “willing households”.
Let us go straight to the point. Complete electrification of India and providing free electricity connection to families below poverty line is neither a new concept nor a new scheme. The scheme was initially launched in April in 2005. As we can’t find older programme websites and data (which this government has either blocked or hidden or deleted) let us take the details from a report of erstwhile planning commission.
This Report gives us a clear picture about the scheme, its progress over the years till 2014 and the flaws that needed to be corrected. The screenshots below will tell the readers about the benefits of the scheme.
Once read, it would be apt to do a comparison with the new scheme Saubhagya. Not only that, we also have to compare that with another scheme, launched by Mr Modi himself in 2014.
Now compare these benefits with Saubhagya scheme. Except “willing households” did you find any other difference? We are not counting “substitute to kerosene” because that is obvious if electricity is available. So not to be mentioned separately as such.
Now, let us check another scheme launched by Mr Modi. The name of the scheme was Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) in 2014. What was the claimed benefits of the scheme? Check the screen shot taken from this government press release and read the benefits the scheme lists
Compare the above with the previous two screenshots. Did you find any difference in the claimed benefits in these three schemes?
Now, let us also check the objectives of these three schemes. Saubhagya being the new one, let us start from there. As the scheme was launched late last evening, we don’t have any official documents or press release to refer to. Hence, we’ll take the screenshots from PM’s twitter handle
For those readers who are not comfortable with Hindi, the PM is saying that his government is dedicated for the poor and their welfare. So it has decided to provide free electricity connection to the poor. Every village and every house in the country will have electricity.
To check RGGVY (Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana), we do not have any direct links to the old sites left. Most of them are either blocked or removed by this government and the data is either hidden of removed. For example, I tried to check the details of RGGVY and this is what I have seen. just check this screen shots
At last we have an option to check both the schemes – RGGVY and DDUGJY at one place – here.
So, it clearly shows that RGGVY became DDUGJY under Modi government and again changed to Saubhagya now.
Before concluding, let us check how much work Modi government has done in this arena since 2014 and how was the performance of UPA government since the inception of the programme in 2005.
Though Modi government is hiding the historical data to protect its incompetence, the nodal agency which is implementing the programme – Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) in its 2016-17 annual report, gave the complete data since 2007-08 on both – the number of villages electrified and the number of BPL households who got free electricity connection.
The highlighted numbers are mentioned below;
Now let us visit the caveat – “willing Households”. With a huge number of houses yet to be electrified, Mr. Modi and his team are well aware that they can not deliver the promise they are making. As the power minister, Mr. piyush Goyal flaunted his ability by promising to electrify all the villages and households by 2017 and now he has stopped saying that. Of course, he’s now moved on to take charge of railway ministry.
This caveat is just to avoid embarrassments in future. The project will not be completed and if any one question the reason, you can always blame this to “unwilling households”.
The sheer improbability of the completion of the project can be measured from the ministry of power Dashboard. It says that, as on 25 September 2017, only 1179 villages had 100% electrified households. That itself will explain you the “willing households” terminology.
With all these details already in public domain, Mr. Modi still repackaged and relaunched an old scheme which he himself repackaged and relaunched from an older scheme 3 years ago and try to sell as new one.
Did Modi government reach such a stage where they can’t even launch a social welfare scheme as their own and they have to rename their own renamed scheme to launch as new? Is it overconfidence or sheer desperation to divert the public attention from failing governance and crashing economy? Readers are the best judges.
(Ravi Nair is an independent data analyst. He can be contacted on Twitter: @t_d_h_nair)