Affiliations: Area Convenor, Energy Reforms Group, Regulatory Studies and Governance Division, The Energy and Resources Institute, Darbari Seth Block, IHC Complex, New Delhi - 110 003, India | Associate Director, Energy–Environment Technology Division, The Energy and Resources Institute, Darbari Seth Block, IHC Complex, New Delhi - 110 003, India
Abstract: Rural electrification is a critical ingredient for the rural development process. Efficient provision of electricity contributes to poverty reduction by acting as a catalyst for industrial growth and enhancing agricultural productivity. Being central to the basic human needs of health and education, it has a significant impact on the quality of life in the rural areas. Despite this strong and well-established link between development and electricity provision, it is ironic that India's track record with rural electrification has been far from impressive. After 58 years of Independence, 72% of the country's population lives in the rural areas and still does not have adequate access to electricity. Recent policy initiatives have given the much-needed thrust to the electrification process in rural India and have made an attempt to place electricity in the holistic picture of rural development. The GoI (Government of India) has set a target of achieving universal household electrification by 2010. While this ambitious target does convey the spirit to empower rural India, its actual implementation and success remains to be seen. This paper analyses the challenges that need to be duly addressed if India is to meet the mammoth task of universal electrification in a timely and sustainable manner.