Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Dec, 08, 2018

SMART project in Maharashtra villages


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Food processing & related industries in India- scope & significance, location, upstream & downstream requirements, supply chain management

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SMART Project

Mains level: Facilitating agri-business in India


  • The state government launched an ambitious project – State of Maharashtra Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART) – in 10,000 villages with an objective to achieve sustainable farming within the next three years.


  1. The SMART project is being undertaken will cover almost one-fourth of Maharashtra.
  2. The project SMART will be assisted by the World Bank.
  3. The focus is clearly on villages which are reeling under the worst agriculture crisis compounded by lack of infrastructure and assured value chains to channelize the farm produce.
  4. The objective of the project is to:
  • create and support the value chains in post-harvest segments of agriculture,
  • facilitate agribusiness investment,
  • stimulate SMEs within the value chain,
  • support resilient agriculture production systems,
  • expand access to new and organised markets for producers and
  • enhance private sector participation in the agribusiness.

A farmer friendly project

  1. This project unites agriculture-oriented corporates and farmers by providing them a common platform.
  2. Through this meaningful partnership change will emerge across rural as well as livelihood of farmers across the state.
Jul, 24, 2018

[pib] Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

Mains level: Holistic development of rural India through capacity building with help of various premier institutes


The Government has successfully launched Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

  1. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is a flagship programme of the Ministry of HRD, which aims to link the Higher Education Institutions with a set of at least 5 villages so that these institutions can contribute to the economic and social betterment of these village communities using their knowledge base.
  2. It is a significant initiative where all Higher Learning Institutes have been involved for participation in development activities, particularly in rural areas.
  3. It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between the society and an inclusive university system, with the latter providing knowledge base; practices for emerging livelihoods and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and private sectors.
  4. Currently, 748 Institutions are participating under the scheme.
  5. The objective of the scheme is:
  • To engage the faculty and students of Higher Educational Institutions in understanding rural realities;
  • Identify and select existing innovative technologies, enable customization of technologies, or devise implementation methods for innovative solutions, as required by people; and
  • To allow Higher Educational Institutions to contribute to devising systems for smooth implementation of various Government Programs.


Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

  1. This is an HRD Ministry initiative launched in 2014 with the two-fold aim to provide rural India with professional resource support from institutes of higher education in the field of STEM
  2. And Building institutional capacity in Institutes of higher education in research & training relevant to the needs of rural India
  3. This programme will be launched in collaboration with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research (IISERs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) throughout the country
  4. Each IIT/NIT/IISER will identify 10 villages in its neighbourhood and work out technologies to solve the most pressing issues of the region
  5. Various teams from these institutes will visit the villages, identify problems and then aim to find financially-viable schemes.
Jul, 07, 2018

Govt. deploys 800 IAS officers for village outreach


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The newscard highlights the evaluation process of central welfare schemes against the spirit of cooperative federalism


To ensure delivery of Central welfare schemes

  1. A battalion of Central Govt IAS officers has been drafted to ensure on the ground implementation as the Centre races to saturate 117 “aspirational districts” with seven flagship social welfare schemes by Independence Day.
  2. PM himself has been monitoring the implementation of these schemes by meeting various beneficiaries and has pointed to this campaign as a model for future of welfare delivery.

Details of the deployment

  1. At least 800 Deputy Secretaries, Under-Secretaries and Director-level officers, drawn from Ministries as diverse as Defence and Urban Affairs, have been assigned about 75 villages to visit, as part of the Extended Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (EGSA) from June 1 to August 15.
  2. In total, 49,178 villages — most with a majority SC/ST population — are being targeted.
  3. Senior officials from the Ministries of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, and the Department of Personnel and Training are jointly coordinating the drive.
  4. Central officials are being absorbed into EGSA duty for at least 15 working days.

What do they do?

  1. In each village, the Central team convenes a meeting of villagers and beneficiaries along with a State government or district official, a lead bank representative and local officials from the agencies responsible for enrolling people into the schemes.
  2. They monitor the scheme, get feedback…If there are any hurdles, they can sort it out on the spot. Ex. central officers could direct the local representatives to give immediate sanction for gas cylinders, bank accounts or electricity connections.
  3. The teams can also directly input the day’s progress into a data system that can be tracked live on the EGSA dashboard “”.
  4. Senior Ministry officials also make direct daily calls to a section of District Collectors to monitor progress, while third-party observers for each district —mostly from NGOs or academia — who do random checks of villages and report back to the Ministry.

The success of such drill is limited

  1. The rate of enrolment during the duration of the scheme has been the most impressive in the Saubhagya scheme, and in the Indra Dhanush Missions.
  2. Addressing the NITI Aayog Governing Council earlier this month, PM had said the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan has emerged as a new model for implementation of schemes.

Sidelining Cooperative Federalism

  1. However, the large-scale involvement of Central officers raises questions about the viability of such drives, and about roles in a federal democracy.
  2. Dissent of the state officials due to central interference and sidelined pending workload was the most common concern raised.
  3. This is a deeply problematic way of going about welfare delivery as sought by some states.
  4. Constitutionally, while the Centre has higher powers of taxation, the bulk of the expenditure on welfare is to be done by the States.

Its not the ‘Centre’ who formulates but the ‘State’ who implements

  1. The centralizing trend in flagship welfare schemes allows the ruling party at the Centre to draw political mileage and build vote banks.
  2. Direct connections to the district administration tend to bypass State administrations, while sending out large Central teams to do the work of local officials fails to empower local human resources.
  3. The new approach is not just centralized, but also personalized.
  4. It may create a veneer of efficiency and a high-quality publicity campaign, but it undermines the logic of federalism
May, 16, 2018

Govt okays Rs 5,000 crore micro-irrigation fund


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Benefits of using micro-irrigation

Mains level: Specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.


Fund for micro-irrigation project

  1. The government has approved a dedicated Rs 5,000 crore fund to bring more land area under micro-irrigation as part of its objective to boost agriculture production and farmers income

Particulars of the fund

  1. The fund has been set up under NABARD
  2. It will provide this amount to states on concessional rate of interest to promote micro-irrigation
  3. An allocation of Rs2,000 crore has been made for this fiscal while Rs3,000 crore has been earmarked for the 2019-20 fiscal
  4. NABARD will extend the loan to state governments during this period
    More about the fund
  5. The dedicated fund would supplement the efforts of PMKSY programme and help bring about 10 lakh hectares under micro-irrigation
  6. The fund will facilitate States to mobilise resources for their initiatives, including additional (top up subsidy) in implementation of PMKSY-PDMC to achieve the annual target of about 2 million hectares per year during the remaining period of 14th Finance Commission

Low interest rate

  1. Borrowings from NABARD shall be paid back in seven years including the grace period of two years
  2. The lending rate under MIF has been proposed at 3% lower than the cost of raising the fund by NABARD
  3. This cost would be met from the ongoing scheme of PMKSY-PDMC (per drop more crop component) by amending the existing guidelines

Low coverage: Micro-Irrigation

  1. It currently has a coverage of only 10 million hectares as against the potential of 70 million hectares
May, 12, 2018

Telangana govt launches Rs 8,000/acre investment support scheme for farmers


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the scheme

Mains level: The Rythu Bandhu scheme is a first-of-its kind scheme in India.


First-of-its kind investment support scheme for farmers in Telangana: The Rythu Bandhu scheme

  1. Farmers will get Rs 8,000 per acre every year as crop investment support
  2. About 58 lakh farmers who till over 1.42 crore acres are expected to be benefitted from the initiative

More about the scheme

  1. Farmers will directly get the financial support twice every year to maximise agricultural production and productivity
  2. The financial assistance will be for two crops each year
  3. The state government has already set aside Rs 12,000 crore in the 2018-19 budget exclusively for this scheme

Other efforts done by the state government

  1. As a proof of ownership, Rao also distributed ‘pattadar’ passbook among farmers. Land title documents were prepared after a comprehensive land survey
  2. He pointed out that the survey identified 1.42 crore acres as cultivable land in the state
  3. For seamless implementation of various agriculture-related schemes, land records have been updated and digitised
May, 12, 2018

[op-ed snap] In a state of energy poverty


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Discoms, “Power for all”, etc.

Mains level: The regional imbalances in electricity access, challenge from Distribution network capacity, etc.



  1. It is uncertain if the goal of electrifying all ‘willing households’ will mean universal access

Important turnarounds

  1. There is now 100% village electrification in India, an important milestone in the country’s development trajectory
  2. Another important turnaround came last year when India claimed to be a net surplus and exporter of electricity (a scenario projected to continue for at least a decade)

But do these developments mark an end to India’s energy poverty?

  1. 31 million rural households and about five million urban households are still to be connected to the grid( the highest in any single country)
  2. At the same time, a significant portion of connected rural households is yet to get adequate quantity and quality of supply

Future plans of the government

  1. The Central government has set itself an ambitious target of connecting all remaining households by the end of March 2019 and made budgetary allocations to cover the cost of electrification
  2. As part of a Centre-State joint initiative on 24×7 ‘Power for All’, State governments have already committed to ensuring round-the-clock supply to all households from April 2019

Regional imbalances in electricity access: Barriers and fallibility

  1. Seven States (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) account for 90% of un-electrified households
  2. Coincidentally, these States are ranked poorly in social development indices and house about two-thirds of the population living below the poverty line
  3. This concurrence between economic poverty and energy poverty will be a barrier to the goal of universal access

The main issue in these seven states

  1. Electricity distribution companies (discoms) in these seven States are already highly indebted, accounting for 42% of accumulated debts of all discoms as on March 2016
  2. \Their debts account for 17% of accumulated liabilities of the States
  3. Despite continued State subvention (except by Odisha), all these discoms have been consistently running at a loss, accounting for about 47% of the loss in electricity distribution business

Given the context, it is uncertain whether the goal of electrifying all ‘willing households’ by March 2019 would translate into universal access to electricity

Challenge is from Distribution network capacity: Another major challenge

  1. The distribution infrastructure in India is overburdened causing a high level of technical losses and frequent breakdowns
  2. The distribution network capacity in several States is inadequate to carry available electricity
  3. Subsequently, discoms have been resorting to load shedding while their contracted generation capacities are underutilised
  4. Adding new load to the existing fragile distribution network will only compromise the quality and reliability of supply
  5. It could result in continued blackouts for the rural poor during peak hours

Efforts done by the government: Inadequate funding

  1. The available funding support has been short of the growing requirement
  2. Current allocations under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), to augment rural and urban distribution networks, respectively, are only a fraction of the requirement
  3. Moreover, disbursement of these grants has been much slower, 17% under DDUGJY and 31% under IPDS, reflecting sluggish implementation

The way forward

  1. Low achievement of earlier electrification schemes has often been blamed on incompatibility and a lack of cooperation between the Centre and States
  2. Given that six of the seven low access States as well as the Centre are run by a single political party (and allies), there seems to be a strong political consensus on the goal of universal access
May, 09, 2018

[op-ed snap] The problem of lack of rural electricity demand


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various electricity schemes mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: The newscard discusses the issue of discoms’ stressed finances and poor reliability of power supply in rural areas.



  1. The government has announced the electrification of all inhabited census villages
  2. However, nearly one-fifth of India’s rural households (around 31 million) still remain in acute darkness

Government efforts for the same

  1. The government is committed to reaching these households through the Saubhagya scheme by 31 December 2018—a deadline that has been moved up from 31 March 2019
  2. The project’s ambition is praiseworthy

But is it enough?

  1. Electrification schemes like the previous Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), and the ongoing Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Saubhagya schemes have focused on establishing village electricity infrastructure
  2. There are issues with these schemes
  3. The largest issue is the lack of focus on supply-side barriers

The main issue:-
Power For All: Electricity Access Challenge In India
A World Bank study

  1. According to the study, “even where electricity service has been locally available, many village households choose not to adopt a connection”
  2. For instance, states like Tripura and Sikkim, despite almost universal access, have among the lowest consumption rates
  3. Examining this gap between electricity access and household-level adoption allows for a better understanding of supply-demand problems
  4. Only six states had, on average, 24-hour power supply in rural areas as of December 2017
  5. This lack of reliability often discourages households from adopting electricity, which disincentivises discoms, thus undermining investment in rural electrification

Challenges faced by Discoms

  1. Discoms face multiple challenges, ranging from revenue losses due to high costs of power procurement to power theft
  2. and irregularity and delay in disbursement of state subsidies assured to domestic and agriculture consumers
  3. The lack of political will across governments to rationalize tariffs and slash these subsidies is a long-running problem
    Government efforts
  4. The current government attempt to address discoms’ financial stress via the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (Uday) is the latest in a long line of government bailouts. It hasn’t been any more successful than previous attempts
  5. The scheme was rolled out in 2015

The way forward

  1. While India has made remarkable progress in bringing electricity to every village, the achievement on this front masks continuing challenges
  2. There’s still a long way to go for lowering barriers to adoption, easing discoms’ financial stress and incentivising rural adoption
May, 02, 2018

[op-ed snap] Power drive: Getting affordable electricity to every household needs sustained policy support


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The anomalies and the possible solution discussed in the newscard.



  1. When PM recently announced that all inhabited villages now enjoy electrification, it signalled a significant milestone in the country’s development
  2. Yet, statistics conceal severe disparities

Importance of access to electricity

  1. It drives the productivity of households, empowers women and enables education and communication

Some anomalies
(1) The actual number of households in villages that have power connections

  1. The existing definition to declare a village electrified is coverage of a mere 10% of households and common facilities such as schools, panchayats and health centres
  2. Rural household electrification has a wide range across States, from 47% to 100%

(2) The number of hours they get reliable power

  1. The average hours of power supplied in a day to rural areas in January 2018 ranged from 11.5 in Mizoram, 14.91 in Haryana and 17.72 in Uttar Pradesh to 24 hours in Kerala, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu

(3) The per capita power that rural and urban Indians consume

  1. The per capita consumption between rural and fast-rising urban India also represents a challenge, since there is a divergence between the two

Consequences of these anomalies

  1. These anomalies are often the result of infrastructure deficits and administrative inefficiency
  2. They also show that(even with supportive Central schemes) the Power for All 24×7 goal adopted by States and Union Territories with a deadline of April 1, 2019 is far from realistic.

Is the renewable sources of energy a ready solution for rural India?

  1. To many, the falling cost of renewable, decentralised sources such as solar photovoltaics represents a ready solution for rural India
  2. Yet, the evidence from States such as Maharashtra damage and lack of technical capacity can pose serious hurdles
    Possible solution
  3. The answer may lie in a hybrid solution that ensures continued scaling up of both grid-connected and standalone solar systems in appropriate areas
Apr, 30, 2018

Electricity reached all Indian villages


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DDUGJY, SAUBHAGYA scheme, Rural Electrification Corporation

Mains level: Electrification of all Villages & associated benefits


Universal electrification achieved

  1. According to the government data, all of India’s 597,464 census villages have been electrified.

What is an electrified village?

  1. A village is declared to be electrified if 10% of the households can access power along with public institutions
    such as schools, the panchayat office, health centers, dispensaries and community centers etc.

Electrification before the due date

  1. With the electricity now reaching all villages through the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana
    (DDUGJY), it is being termed as a game changer moment for readying the country towards achieving
    universal electricity access
  2. All Indian villages now have access to electricity
  3. The last village to be brought on the national power grid was Leisang village in the Senapati district of Manipur


  1. State-run Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) is the nodal agency appointed for executing the scheme
  2. Aimed at providing round the clock power to rural households and adequate power to agricultural
    consumers, leading to complete rural electrification
  3. The scheme will also help improve India’s per capita power consumption of around 1,200 kWh which is
    among the lowest in the world

The Way Forward

  1. Household electrification remains the final frontier in providing electricity access
  2. Given its electoral potential, the next step now is to provide electricity connections to more than 40 million families in rural and urban areas by March 2019 under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya), wherein all households will be targeted
  3. The scheme funds the cost of last-mile connectivity to willing households and will provide the architecture through which the government seeks to reduce import of fossil fuels, boost underutilized power plants and meet its climate change commitments
  4. By providing universal access to electricity under the scheme, the government plans to leverage the same to promote induction cooking, heating and charging electric vehicles, apart from the initial target of providing lighting



  1. Aim: To achieve universal household electrification in all parts of the country by providing the last mile
    electricity connectivity to all rural and urban household
  2. Under the scheme, the government will provide free electricity to all households identified under Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data 2011
  3. The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) is the nodal agency for operationalization of scheme throughout the country
  4. Electricity connections will be given to APL families for Rs 500, which will be payable in 10 equal monthly installments. The BPL cardholders will get it for free
  5. For covering un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible areas, solar power packs of 200 to 300 Wp with the battery bank, comprising of 5 LED lights, 1 DC fan, 1 DC power plug including the Repair and Maintenance (R&M) for 5 years
Apr, 26, 2018

More institutions to work for rural development

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

Mains level: Holistic development of rural India through capacity building with help of various premier institutes


Unnat Bharat 2.0

  1. The second stage of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, a scheme of the Centre aimed at making higher education institutions provide solutions for problems of villages is set to take off with a much wider spread than its first stage
  2. While just 143 premier institutions like IITs and NITs took part in the first stage, UBA 2.0 will see open and much wider participation from many higher educational institutions
  3. Both technical and non-technical institutions have been invited to build systems in villages as per their

Two-way learning

  1. The idea is to have a coordinated approach where the government and institutions work together to
    facilitate rural development
  2. It is expected to be a two-way learning process, where institutions share their knowledge with villages and also learn from the wisdom and common sense of rural folk
  3. The key points include helping villages achieve 100% school results, creating 25 jobs each in four sectors in each village where work would take place, increasing rural incomes, providing drinking water and sanitation to villages, disposing village garbage, among other things


Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

  1. This is an HRD Ministry initiative launched in 2014 with the two-fold aim to provide rural India with professional resource support from institutes of higher education in the field of STEM
  2. And Building institutional capacity in Institutes of higher education in research & training relevant to the needs of rural India
  3. This programme will be launched in collaboration with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research (IISERs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) throughout the country
  4. Each IIT/NIT/IISER will identify 10 villages in its neighborhood and work out technologies to solve the most pressing issues of the region
  5. Various teams from these institutes will visit the villages, identify problems and then aim to find financially-viable schemes.
Apr, 21, 2018

[pib] Restructured Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Restructured Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Mains level: Initaitives for rural development


  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval for restructured Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA).   
  • The Scheme will be implemented during the period from 01.04.2018 to 31.03.2022


  • This scheme will extend to all States and UTs of the Country and will also include institutions of rural local government in non-Part IX areas, where Panchayats do not exist,
  • The scheme will have both Central Component – National Level activities including “National Plan of Technical Assistance”, “Mission Mode project on e-Panchayat”, “Incentivization of Panchayats” and State component – Capacity Building of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs),
  • The Central Component will be fully funded by the Government of India
  • However, Centre:State funding pattern for State Component will be 60:40 for all States, except North East and Hill States where Centre: State funding pattern will be 90:10
  • For all Union Territories (UTs) (with and without legislatures), the Central share will be 100%.
  • The implementation and monitoring of the activities of the scheme will broadly be aligned for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with main thrust on Panchayats identified under Mission Antyodaya and 115 Aspirational districts as identified by NITI Aayog.
  • The Scheme will converge capacity building initiatives of other Ministries with particular focus on those Ministries which will be impacted substantially by this Scheme,
  • Sunset date for RGSA will be 31.03.2030.


  • The approved scheme of RGSA will help more than 2.55 lakh Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to develop governance capabilities to deliver on SDGs through inclusive local governance with focus on optimum utilisation of available resources.
  • The scheme is designed keeping in view programmatic convergence with Mission Antyodaya GPs and 115 Aspirational districts as identified by NITI Aayog.


  • The Finance Minister, in his budget speech for 2016-17, announced the launch of new restructured scheme of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA), for developing governance capabilities of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • A Committee under the Chairmanship of the Vice Chairman-NITI Aayog was constituted to restructure the existing scheme of this Ministry as Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan.
Apr, 19, 2018

[op-ed snap] The welfare effects of rural electrification


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Saubhagya Scheme

Mains level: The issues discussed about rural electrification. And how rural electrification can help India in achieving SDGs.


Work done by various governments for rural electrification

  1. Rural electrification received attention in the development agenda mostly in the last one-and-a-half decades
  2. In 2005, the Central government launched the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) which subsumed all other ongoing schemes related to rural electrification
  3. The scheme focused on electrification of villages through implementation of decentralized distributed generation (DDG)
  4. RGGVY was later included in the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) (recently renamed the Saubhagya scheme),
  5. which additionally focuses on feeder separation, improvement of sub-transmission and distribution network, and metering to reduce losses
    Satisfying results
  6. All these schemes have delivered results and now only a few villages are left that have yet to achieve the target of 100% electrification
  7. As per the latest government statistics, only 910 villages are yet to be electrified, which account for 5% of India’s un-electrified villages (as on April 2015), excluding some uninhabited villages

However, the performance of rural household electrification is not that encouraging

  1. Around 35 million households—approximately 11% of the total rural households—are yet to be electrified

The right criteria of measuring real success of rural electrification

  1. The success of rural electrification should not be measured only on the basis of connections provided, but also on the basis of provision of reliable and quality power supply during peak hours
  2. Both of these are still persistent problems faced by a majority of India’s rural households
  3. As per the UNDP recommended “Energy Plus” approach, supply of electricity only for lighting is a necessary but not sufficient condition for rural livelihood development
  4. This framework emphasizes on energy access in combination with productive use of electricity for income generation and livelihood upliftment

High cost of power supply in rural areas

  1. As a majority of the rural households cannot afford high cost supply, utilities are reluctant to supply the required quality and quantity of electricity in these areas
  2. This is apart from the issue of capacity constraint in terms of power generation/purchase
  3. However, implementing some appropriate measures such as smart meters, infrastructure development, franchisee arrangements with local self-help-groups (for more effective billing, monitoring and collection) may improve the situation to some extent

Saubhagya scheme addresses some crucial issues(given above)

  1. It aims to improve environment, public health, education and connectivity with the help of last-mile power connections across India along with providing electricity connections to over 40 million families in rural and urban areas by December
  2. Households out of reach of the national electricity grid are proposed to be provided with solar power packs along with battery banks with the Rural Electrification Corporation as the nodal agency
  3. The Saubhagya scheme will help India meet its global climate change commitments as electricity will substitute kerosene for lighting
  4. It will also help improve education, health, and connectivity apart from having a multiplier effect on increased economic activities and job creation.

Energy poverty affects women and girls more

  1. As they have to bear the primary responsibility for collecting firewood, cooking and other domestic work
  2. These tasks expose them to negative health impacts and increase their domestic and reproductive burdens
  3. Thus, there is also a need to explore the role of rural electrification in promoting gender equality, which, along with women empowerment, is an integral part of inclusive development and sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The way forward

  1. None of the energy access programmes in India have incorporated gender equality in what they hope to achieve
  2. As India is currently focusing on the achievement of SDGs, women-centric energy access programmes will contribute more effectively in achievement of various SDGs


Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana–“Saubhagya”

  1. Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ a new scheme was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 25th September 2017
  2. Under Saubhagya free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas will be provided
  3. There are around 4 Crore un-electrified households in the country and they are targeted for providing electricity connections by December 2018
  4. Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) has been designated as its nodal agency for the Saubhagya scheme
Nov, 30, 2017

Govt to build 10 million houses for rural poor by December 2018


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not mcuh

Mains level: Development of Rural Infrastructure is an important part of the Mains Syllabus


Government’s Target

  1. The ministry of rural development is aiming to complete the construction of 10 million houses for the rural poor by December 2018
  2. It is earlier than the the March 2019 deadline set by the National Democratic Alliance government

Particulars of the project

  1. More than five million houses are to be completed by March 2018
  2. To complete this target, the rural development ministry has in partnership with state governments taken many steps “including setting month-wise targets for completion of houses
  3. Some 5.6 million people were sanctioned houses under the programme with the government using data from the 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census and gram sabha (village council) records

Reason behind faster completion of the project

  1. The faster completion of quality houses has been assisted by payment of assistance directly into the beneficiary account through the IT-DBT (information technology-direct benefit transfer) platform

Best performer states

  1. States like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are among the best performing in terms of construction of new houses
  2. But states like Assam, Bihar and Odisha are among those lagging behind due to problems like floods
Nov, 21, 2016

[pib] PM Launches “Housing for All” in Rural Areas

  1. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin): To provide an environmentally safe and secure pucca house to every rural household by 2022
  2. In its first phase the target is to complete one crore houses by March 2019
  3. Selection process? Using the Socio Economic Census 2011 data and validating it through the Gram Sabha
  4. PMAY-G is a major step forward in bringing together Skill India, Digital India, Make In India, IT/DBT Aadhaar platform and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). How?
  5. The programme provides for skilling 5 lakh Rural Masons by 2019
  6. Uses ICT and space technology to further confirm correct selection of beneficiaries and progress of work
  7. The entire payments are through IT/DBT mode with Aadhaar linked Bank accounts
Aug, 13, 2016

CAG uncovers roads to nowhere

  1. Context: The performance audit report of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), tabled in Parliament
  2. Irregularities: Ranging from flouting of planning procedures, poor quality control, diversion of funds, extension of undue benefits to contractors
  3. Also, showing road connectivity where there is none, not providing roads to eligible habitations, and pathetic maintenance of roads
  4. Social Audit: The Public Accounts Committee of the 14th Lok Sabha had recommended that social audit (as included in the MGNREGA scheme) be incorporated in the PMGSY but it has not yet been done
  5. Why social audit? Various quality control and monitoring deficiencies
Feb, 18, 2016

11 Maharashtra villages to pool land for integrated township

  1. Context: 11 villages from the Khalapur Nagar panchayat, in Raigad district started an initiative to voluntarily pool 3,500 hectares of land for the development of an integrated township
  2. Similar: similar to the NAINA (Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area) scheme being undertaken by City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO)
  3. Andhra Pradesh Model: followed the Andhra Pradesh model, where the farmers have contributed 33,000 hectare to government for the establishment of state capital at Amravati
  4. Special purpose vehicle: Villagers to form SPV for planning and development
Dec, 26, 2015

Vajpayee’s road scheme soon in Naxal-hit areas

Road Ministry failed to finish first phase; Rural Development Ministry to take over.

  1. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways may lose the responsibility of building roads and bridges in the Maoist-affected States.
  2. The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the brainchild of former Premier Vajpayee, which was launched in 2004, implemented by the Rural Development Ministry.
  3. Maoist-related incidents touched a 5-year low in 2015, with 1,006 incidents reported this year as compared to 1,760 in 2011.
  4. The Centre is working on an ambitious plan for seamless connectivity between the 10 Naxal-affected States and is all set to launch the Road Requirement Plan-II.
Mar, 06, 2015

Major benefits of the Integrated Watershed Dev. Prog

  1. Prevention of soil runoff
  2. Rainwater harvesting and recharge of groundwater table
  3. Regeneration of natural vegetation
  4. In a bid to condense the Centrally-sponsored schemes, GoI integrated DPAP (Drought Prone Areas Prog.) + DDP (Desert Dev. Prog.) + IWDP into one single scheme.
  5. The new scheme would be called IWMP (management being the replaced word)
  6. UPSC asked straight factual question on IWDP. One could have answered by either reading the Year Book or diligently making notes from The Hindu.
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