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Piyush Goyal Blames States for Hiked Rural Electrification Data

Quint | Bloomberg Exclusive: MoS for Power Piyush Goyal blames states for overstating rural electrification data.

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In April 2016, over 18,450 villages in India did not have electricity. That’s around the time the NDA government put rural electrification on the top of its priority list. Led by Piyush Goyal, the power ministry catalysed the process of electrification of villages, implemented by states and monitored by the central government-owned Rural Electrification Corporation.

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In March, the Power Ministry claimed that 7,108 villages were electrified in financial year 2016 (FY16)… more than the villages covered in the last three fiscal years together. 11,344 villages are yet to be electrified.

But a Parliamentary Standing Committee says the data is wrong. As reported by PTI on 2 May, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Power observed ‘that the number of villages that are yet to be electrified are much more than the official figure (of 11,344 as on March 31, 2016) and there are cases where electrification of the villages has been done only in records but in reality they are still deprived of the same.’

Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal blames the states for wrong data. He says the states have overstated the number of villages electrified. In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg Quint, Goyal said:

After all I depend on states to execute the programme and to give me information about what work has been done. And I honestly report whatever the states tell me.
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In fact, Goyal claims credit for exposing the inaccurate data and for reducing corruption in state-led electrification programmes.

…we have engaged so many Grameen Vidyutikaran Abhyantas, GVAs who go out there and inspect the work, make out reports of what they see. And honestly and transparently, without editing, those reports are put out on the GARV mobile app. So I am myself giving the information to the people and the media about where there are shortcomings in this programme. Because I want you to talk about it and hold the state governments accountable to the people of India. And I myself follow up with the state governments to improve their performance. I am told that the level of corruption, inefficiency and ineptitude have drastically fallen because of this level of transparency. The reports being referred to are quoted entirely from the information provided by the central government appointed GVAs.
Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy
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The rural electrification programme can be monitored daily via the GARV website. Currently it shows that 10,353 villages have yet to be electrified, of which work has begun on 1,443 villages. Power Minister Piyush Goyal says the government’s target, in the first phase, is to electrify every revenue village in India by 2019. The second phase of rural electrification will target every hamlet and then each household.

Also read: Sorry Piyush Goyal, UPA Still Holds Rural Electrification Record

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(The Parliamentary Committee report is yet to be posted on its website. Bloomberg Quint reached out to the Committee Chairperson and BJP MP Kirit Somaiya for more information on the report but he refused to comment.)

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