Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugrates one of the toughest project Saubhagya. It is Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana. The scheme is to ensure electrification of all willing households in India in rural as well urban areas. In our country any scheme comes with a number of risks and vulnerabilities. A number of illegal avenues open up the moment government comes up with a project. The risk is the people who are part of this chain. Obviously, larger the project, higher is the risk. Higher risk means higher scope of corruption and money laundering. Evnetually we notice the amount they allocate for the scheme land into some pockets and the mark the work as complete on papers. And if someone else tries to raise an alarm, there is a separate provision for that too.
Hope all this doesn’t happen to Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana. Because launching a scheme and declaring budgets is the easiest task. Tough tasks are its exeuction and ensuring the right spend of money. Like in this project, the total outlay is INR 16,320 crore. In addition the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) is INR 12,320 crore. If we look at rural front, the outlay for rural households is INR 14,025 crore along with the GBS of INR 10,588 crore. That means the outlay for the urban households is INR 2,295 crore wiith GBS of INR 1,733 crore. It will be a central expenditure by the Government of India to provide largely funds for the scheme to all States and Union Territories. The deadline for the completion of this project by all States and UTs is 31 December 2018.
Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana Is A Big Mission
Such big ticket items like Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana need to have a transparent execution mechanism. Let there be a portal to report the allocation of budget, plan of execution, actual execution of project, verification mechanism, and actual verification status. Let there be a single owner for each state representing central government and having the complete onus of corruption free execution of the scheme for that state of UT. Another worry point is the eligibility crieteria. The beneficiaries for free electricity connections would be on the basis of Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data. Who ensures that this data is 100% correct? Or if there is a deviation, does it exceed 10%? That way only 10% of the project money will be at stake.
Who is responsible for the fair execution of Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana? Obviously, the ownership lies on the central government. Rather, when the initiatives like this come from the highest chair of India Inc., it should be taken with 100% sincerity and seriousness at every level of its execution and disbursement of funds. There is another condition to get free electricity connection under this scheme. If a household has no electrification so far and doesn’t even reflect in SECC data, still can have electricity connection under the scheme on payment of INR 500. This payment shall go to DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity bill. If the investmnt of this scheme goes to the actual deserving ones, it is well and good. But the monitoring mechanism has to be strong.
Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana Needs Transparency
After all it is public money that is being invested in Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana. So the public of India has all rights to know where exactly the amount is going? And through what means and practices? If government agrees to it then why not place a dynamic and real-time portal for each state and UT? And le it be as easily accessible as PMs Mann Ki Baat? Could it be a PPP initiative to have a better control mechanism and a little bit of transparency. I think in today’s digital world, and that too when we have Digital India mission too in place, we can very easily create this portal and even publish the last mile connection with household details. Let the public know whether the recipient of this scheme is genuine or fake. Let us all be equal stakeholders to create Corruption free India.
The scheme entitles each unelectrified household that is in remote and inaccessible areas to have solar power packs of 200 to 300 Wp with battery bank. The pack consists of Five LED lights, One DC fan, and One DC Power plug. In addition, it also includes the Repair and Maintenance for 5 years. That means the household will not only get all these equipment free of cost, but also the repair and maintenance. It is important to hold the reigns of expenses under these heads. Because it is easy to show genuine recipients on paper but the acutal material might land up in the house of an MP’s relative. I am sure all these logistics have been take care of before launching such kind of huge scheme. The purpose is to really bring light in a house and not show it merely on papers.
Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana Could have been a PPP project
Let us see what are the outcomes our government is expecting from Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana scheme. The expected outcome of the Scheme is as follows:
- (a) Environmental upgradation by substitution of Kerosene for lighting purposes
- (b) Improvement education services
- (c) Better health services
- (d) Enhanced connectivity through radio, television, mobiles, etc.
- (e) Increased economic activities and jobs
- (f) Improved quality of life especially for women
Also, good to see that government has a plan and procedure to identify the genuine ones for Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana scheme. Modern technology will play a major role in the deployment of this scheme. It will also accelerate the deployment process. In fact, household surveys will happen using Mobile App. There willbe a proper mechanism for identification of beneficiaries. The application for electricity connection and online on-the-spot registration will be done along with photograph of the application and identity proof. Public Instiutions or Gram Panchayats in the rural areas will collect application forms along with complete documentation. Overall responsibility throughout India will lie with REC (Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd.).