RGGVY fails to provide secured and reliable energy to all: Greenpeace social audit

People demand local renewable energy to be included in RGGVY at public hearing in Saran district

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Press release - May 2, 2011
Saran district, 2nd May 2011: In an indictment of the flagship rural electrification scheme of the United Progressive Alliance, (UPA) Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), Greenpeace today released the results of its social audit of the scheme in Saran district, saying that the scheme has miserably failed to achieve its vision and objective of providing energy to all.

The findings of the social audit were released at the first public hearing on the scheme jointly organised by Greenpeace and the people of Bariarpur village in Saran district. The public hearing will provide people the opportunity to put their opinion and complaints about energy situation in their village and district to the local leaders, policy makers, and officers of the concerned departments. 

Greenpeace has conducted a social audit of the scheme across nine villages from nine blocks – Sonepur, Parsa, Manjhi, Marhoura, Lahladpur, Issuapur, Nagra, Dighwara, and Taraiyyan – of Saran district over a period of one month.

There are numerous inconsistencies in what the scheme claims and what the audit team found on the ground. For instance, the RGGVY website claims that Saran has achieved 100 per cent electrification. However in reality, Greenpeace survey found that a large 78 per cent of the population surveyed was still living in darkness. An overwhelming 87 per cent people complained of the dismal quality, low voltages and erratic supply of electricity that often reached villages post midnight when it is of no use to them.

“Ironically, the government has promptly put up boards of the scheme in all villages, but none of the villages surveyed receive the mandated 6-8 hours of electricity in a day. Moreover, there is a lack of information on the scheme amongst villagers. This has lead to the corruption and indifference amongst the local administration towards the scheme,” said Naveen Mishra, consultant, Greenpeace India and in charge of the social audit in Saran district.

In some villages even though more than almost half the respondents knew that the scheme gives free connections to BPL households, yet more than half the people paid between INR 100 – 500 for a connection.

The centralised nature of the scheme has exposed the various government agencies involved in the implementation of programme. There is no coordination between the implementing agencies, in this case the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, and the state electricity board.

“Whether the transformers are working or not, electricity is being supplied or not doesn’t seem to bother the implementing agency, the Union government or the Bihar government. As a result there have been numerous incidents of wire thefts, burnt transformers and people repairing transformers on their own. A large 93 per cent people didn’t know who to go to if they are not getting electricity. Meanwhile the governments, both state and Union are busy passing the buck on to each other,” said Jitendra Kumar of Nav Jagriti.

However, contrary to popular belief, people are willing to pay to meet their energy requirements. More than half the number of respondents were spending between INR 50 to 100 per month on kerosene for electricity requirements and about 28% spent between INR 100 and 300 per month.

“We just want electricity between 5 pm and 11 pm to help finish household chores, do our studies and run business. Government has given us this scheme. But what is the use if I don’t get electricity when I need it the most. Who should I go to if I am not getting electricity?” asked Sohan Manjhi of Kuraiyya village in Saran district.

“This wrong approach, irregular, insecure and untimely supply of electricity puts a big question mark on the scheme. The lack of energy means that the indirect benefits intended through electrification of panchayat bhawans, schools health centres, and micro enterprise is a far cry. The scheme has the potential to truly electrify and energise rural India. But the very framework of the scheme and its implementation has meant that the scheme has neither reached its goal nor attained its vision. It is very clear from the survey results that RGGVY needs to be revamped to suit local requirements,” added Arpana Udupa, campaigner, Greenpeace India.

Greenpeace recommends that an alternative pathway which includes following only can energise Bihar:

•       Uptake of small scale renewable energy generation units to ensure quality electricity generation and supply at local level.

•       Involvement of local agencies and inclusion of irrigation and medium and small scale industries for sustainable development of village.


Greenpeace will send the report of the social audit to the state and central government. With the state in the midst of violent protests against non availability of electricity, chief minister Nitish Kumar should communicate to the Planning Commission and the Union government to consider the findings of social audit and to include decentralised renewable energy generation into the RGGVY scheme before they roll out the 13th five year plan.


For further information, please contact:

•       Arpana Udupa, campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91 953515200,  

•       Naveen Mishra, consultant, Greenpeace India, +91 9910702114,

•       Munna Jha, media consultant, Greenpeace India, +91 9570099300,

•       Jitendra Kumar, Secretary, NAV JAGRITI, +91 9431074772