The Centre is reportedly looking to set March 2025 as the deadline for providing 24x7 electricity supply across the country.
After the electrification of all households through two major schemes in the last ten years, the BJP-led central government is now focusing on providing uninterrupted reliably power supply by the end of the Financial Year 2024-25, Business Standard reported.
This initiative will be part of the “continuous reforms” being planned if this government is voted back to power.
According to the senior power ministry officials cited in the report, after achieving universal connectivity the next step was to ensure round-the-clock power supply.
“Average hours of electricity supply has increased in both rural and urban areas. States and power distribution companies (discoms) are being pursued to improve it further to 24 hours. It is the last lap,” a senior official was quoted as saying in the Business Standard report.
The ministry also plans to incorporate relevant provisions in regulations that govern discoms, including the Rights of Electricity Consumers and the National Tariff Policy.
As per the details provided by the Power Ministry in the Rajya Sabha, the average electricity supply currently stands at 23.5 hours per day in urban areas and 20.5 hours in rural areas.
In the summer of 2023-24, India experienced a record-breaking power demand of over 240 gigawatts, with expectations of reaching 250 gigawatts in the next fiscal year.
The Central government, through initiatives like SAUBHAGYA and the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, has connected all villages and households to the grid over the past five years.
However, despite this progress, major states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, and Himachal Pradesh have reported a decrease in rural power supply hours, according to a Central Electricity Authority presentation to the Power Ministry in April 2023.
Experts in the sector point out that meeting urban electricity demands is relatively easier and often prioritized by both state-owned and private discoms.
The real challenge lies in rural areas, particularly agricultural zones that typically receive subsidized electricity.
Achieving 24/7 power supply hinges on segregating rural feeders for domestic and irrigation purposes and reducing electricity subsidies.
Feeder segregation helps ensure that subsidized power reaches farmers without misuse. According to the UDAY dashboard, about 86 per cent of the identified 62,000 rural feeders have been segregated so far.
Another significant challenge is the financial health of state-owned discoms, responsible for investing in and maintaining uninterrupted power supply.
According to officials, the reform process for discoms has accelerated, driven by three key schemes: the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS), Late Payment Surcharge (LPS), and changes to the open access scheme.
The RDSS mandates discoms to improve their operations or risk losing grants for various central schemes.
The LPS ensures timely payments to power generators, and the open access scheme facilitates power supply beyond discoms.
Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!