In yet another major social development index achievement for the state, Kerala has become the first state in India to ensure electricity for every household.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), made the formal announcement in a ceremony in Kozhikode on 29 May 2017.
The official press release by the Kerala government can be read here.
A historic achievement
The Kerala State Electricity Board has succeeded in giving connections to all households except 1,000 families, including 150 families living in dense forests. The Chief Minister has said that even these houses will be electrified once the forest regulations and norms are dealt with.
According to central government norms, a village is declared “electrified” as long as it has 10% of its households electrified. But no state in India has been able to claim electrification of all households – until now.
Since assuming power last May, the Kerala government has taken it upon itself to power every household in all villages in the state. The massive project cost the state Rs 175 crore and lit up around 1.5 lakh households, 1.32 lakh of which are below the poverty line. 4,70,000 families benefited from the electrification drive since May 2016.
All houses and establishments in Kerala, no matter how remote or distant, almost all the houses are electrified thanks to the state government’s total electrification project.
Speaking at the Kozhikode event, CM Vijayan recalled his childhood and college days when the only source of light at his home was a simple kerosene lamp. He said, “The situation did not change much even after I became an MLA. Efforts to bring electricity to my village did not yield any results for a long time … That was the time of power cuts and load-shedding too. From that situation, now the State is being declared totally electrified. We have come a long way.”
Kerala has become the first state in India to be completely electrified. The previous Left Democratic Front government…
Electricity Minister MM Mani also spoke at the event. He said, “This is one of the landmark projects taken up by the government on the lines of the land reforms, literacy campaign, and the decentralisation project.”
The LDF faced several obstacles in its total electrification drive, with many rural and tribal families unwilling to opt for electrification due to financial concerns and worries about electricity harming children. The Hindu conducted an elaborate study into the same; this can be read here.
A breakthrough became possible when various employees’ and officers’ unions of the KSEB organised a fund collection drive among their members and pitched in with their contributions to wire the unwired houses. The Rural Electrification Corporation, the Power Finance Corporation, the Kerala Power Finance Corporation and various NGOs also came up with contributions for the purpose with their corporate social responsibility funds.
With his state now fully electrified, Mr Vijayan has said that the dependence on hydroelectric projects for power should be reduced and more focus should be on tapping solar energy. “We need to think of tapping the potential of solar energy when we think of constructing houses or new buildings. All the houses should have solar panels. If offices have solar panels, they can manufacture the power for their needs,” he said.
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian community applauds this momentous achievement of the Kerala government. The national norms dictate that a village can be declared “electrified” even if only 10% of its households are electrified. This is obviously a system that can be improved.
At the same time, when a state manages to electrify each and every household in the state, it is an achievement that is laudable – and historic.
We hope that more states follow Kerala’s example so that more households in India are electrified such that one day every household in the country is electrified.