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Electricity Tops List of Demands in Poll-bound UP: Survey

As of 2016, around 1,77,000 households in rural UP did not have access to electricity. 

Published
As of 2016, 1,77,000 households in rural UP did not have access to  electricity. (Photo: iStock Photo)

Uttar Pradesh is all set to go to polls, with the first phase of the Assembly elections scheduled to be held on 11 February. The state is home to 138 million voters – a figure that is higher than the population of Mexico.

Power cuts were the biggest problem facing the people of Uttar Pradesh, a survey, by a data analytics and public opinion polling firm, for India Spend found. FourthLion Technologies conducted telephonic interviews with 2,513 registered voters in UP.

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About 28 percent of the survey respondents said that power cuts were the biggest issue in the state, 20 percent said jobs, the economy and development were the biggest issues, while 10 percent said a shortage of clean water was the biggest issue. Few voters said the roads, food, the currency ban, crime, corruption, agriculture, sanitation, health and education were the biggest issues.

Source: FourthLion-IndiaSpend survey

How Often Do People In UP Experience Power Cuts?

The percentage of households that used electricity as the main source of energy grew from 31.9 percent in 2001 to 36.8 percent in 2011, according to census data, with a stark difference between urban and rural areas.

While 81.4 percent of urban households used electricity as the main source of energy in 2011, as few as 23.7 percent did so in rural areas, data show.

By the end of 2016, 1,77,000 households in rural UP had no electricity, down from 1,85,900 households in March 2014, government data reveals.

But even households that have electricity face power cuts, the FourthLion-IndiaSpend survey shows. As many as 38 percent of those surveyed said they faced power cuts every day, while 16 percent said they faced power cuts every week but not every day. Women, who are likely to stay at home more, and rural voters, are more likely to face power cuts than men and urban voters respectively.

Source: FourthLion-IndiaSpend survey

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“Power cuts are a more tangible issue,” and so voters might identify it as being a big problem compared to health or education, the quality of which is a more abstract issue, said Neelanjan Sircar, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, a New Delhi-based policy think tank.

Source: Census 2001 and 2011

The Other Big Issue: Jobs

Of the voters surveyed, 20 percent said that availability of jobs was the most important issue in UP.

The number of unemployed in UP per 1,000 of the working-age population decreased from 82 to 52 between 2009 and 2015, but it was higher than the Indian average in 2015-16 (37), labour ministry data shows. Unemployment among the youth was much higher with 148 of those between the ages of 18 and 29 per 1,000 people unemployed in 2015-16.

Even those with graduate degrees face unemployment, an indication of both the lack of jobs and the poor quality of education in the state. For instance, in India, while 97 percent wanted jobs, either in software or core engineering, only 3 percent were good enough to be engineers in software jobs, and only 7 percent could handle core engineering tasks, as IndiaSpend reported in September 2014, based on a report by Aspiring Minds, a New-Delhi based employment consultancy.

As many as 237 per 1,000 working age people (between the ages of 18 and 29 years) with graduate qualifications were unemployed in UP, according to labour ministry data from 2015-16.

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What Did Voters Say About Environmental Issues?

As many as 46 percent of urban voters surveyed thought the air they breathe was polluted, as compared to 26 percent of voters in rural areas.

Kanpur, Firozabad, Allahabad, and Lucknow in UP are included in the list of the world’s 25 most toxic towns, according to data between 2008 and 2015 from the World Health Organization.

A high percentage of voters said they would use public transport and solar energy, the survey found.

Low income voters were more likely to use solar energy and public transport than more affluent voters, survey data show, even though fewer low income voters (26 percent) said the air they breathe was polluted compared to richer voters (36 percent). As many as 90 percent of voters who owned no vehicle said they would use electricity generated from the sun if it reduced pollution in their community, compared to 73 percent of those voters who owned a car.

Similarly, 96 percent of those who did not own any vehicle said they would use public transport if better facilities were available, compared to 87 percent of those who owned a car.

Source: FourthLion-IndiaSpend survey
Source: FourthLion-IndiaSpend survey

The firm, which conducted the survey between 24 and 31 January, said their sample is representative of UP’s urban and rural voters as well as socioeconomic, age, gender and caste make-up.

(This story was published in an arrangement IndiaSpend.)

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