Social survey finds BPL families largely deprived of energy in Azamgarh: Greenpeace

People attend Jansunwai in Azamgarh to voice their opinion on their need for electricity and the running of RGGVY

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Press release - May 10, 2011
Azamgarh district, 10th May 2011: The poor have been deprived of the much needed electricity and further marginalised under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) in Azamgarh district says the Greenpeace social audit report. Greenpeace conducted the social audit of the scheme in Tarwa and Mehnagar blocks of Azamgarh in the month of April.

The findings of the social audit report were released today at the Jansunwai on RGGVY conducted in Shahpur village of Azamgarh. The public hearing was attended by people from the villages surveyed, local administration, local leaders and concerned departments.

The survey found that while the beneficiaries are getting 6-8 hours of electricity under the scheme, a large percentage of people have been left out of the scheme and have not been given connections. Many of them have signed on a paper and even have a meter installed in their house. But the final connection has not been given.

“The claim by the RGGVY website that 93% village electrification has been achieved is a mockery of the so-called targets under the National Common Minimum Programme. In villages like Finihini and Todarpur, only 10 per cent of the below poverty line (BPL) families have been included in the scheme. This has not happened in a lot of the other villages. In some villages the infrastructure installed caters to just 10 per cent of the population, only to declare that the village has been electrified. What kind of rural electrification is this when only a fraction of people are being provided the electricity,” asked Akshay Gupta, campaigner, Greenpeace India and coordinator of the social audit in Azamgarh.

“The electrification programme is misrepresenting facts,” Akshay Gupta added.
The scheme is also riddled with the problems of illegal connections. People just connect a wire to the running line to take electricity illegally. This has impacted the quality of supply and the infrastructure like transformers.

The awareness about the scheme is also low, as less than half of the people surveyed knew of the scheme and the provisions of the scheme. As a result corruption has made inroads into the scheme. Above poverty line families have paid as much as Rs 5000 to Rs 12000 for a connection.

“People are ignorant about the scheme and where to go to for bills, or if the transformer has burnt. People are misinformed about why they haven’t been given a connection. The government has set up the scheme but not provided the support required by the people.

For instance there are numerous discrepancies in the meter reading. Quite a few respondents from Birpur and Kurhapar said that they are receiving electricity bills every month and they don’t even have a connection. People don’t know who to approach for this. Some are getting cumulative bills leading to a lot of unrest in the villages,” said Dr Lenin of PVCHR, who partnered with Greenpeace in the social audit.

The need for electricity has also forced people to spend on polluting and expensive sources of electricity like kerosene and diesel. The survey found out that people were aware about the availability if reliable and good quality energy through renewable energy and all of them preferred it over diesel and coal.

“Though on paper the scheme seems to be doing well, it has failed to meet the aspirations of the people. The scheme was an opportunity for the government to bring in localised power generation through renewable energy to ensure equal and regular supply of electricity. But the narrow and top down approach has meant that rural India’s wait for energy is not over. Decentralised renewable energy has the potential to truly energise and develop India’s villages and the Union government and Planning Commission must consider it,” said Samit Aich, executive director, Greenpeace India.

For further details, please contact:

  • Munna Jha, media consultant, Greenpeace India, +91 9570099300
  • Akshay Gupta, campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91 9176036002
  • Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi, People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights,  + 91 9935599333