Villagers from power-starved Vidharbha meet political leaders in Delhi; Demand 'quick and safe renewable energy solutions for electrifying their villages'

Feature story - April 14, 2009
NEW DELHI, India — Two weeks after calling on political parties to provide reliable energy to the power starved region of Jalka (Yavatmal district, Maharashtra), the representatives from Kalavati’s village made a trip to Delhi to raise issue of energy poverty directly with political leaders across party lines. They came to personally request political parties to electrify rural villages of India. They had witnessed an example of solar power providing them quality energy set up merely in 3 days, and they demanded access to this against the promised nuclear power that was to come decades later.

A few days back, students from Jalka experienced the benefits of electricity from solar energy, a source of clean, reliable, renewable energy. This is exactly what the villagers demanded of politicians they met in Delhi.

Energy poverty is one of the most serious problems that the country faces today. Over 78 million households in India still living without any basic access to electricity and for the many millions rural households the share of electricity they get is only in principle after the power demands of the cities and industrial centres have been met.

The villagers met the following politicians during their visit and their reactions are as presented below:

  • Mr. D. Raja, CPI (M): Avoiding any CPI (M) party stand on decentralized renewable energy, he agreed that there must be thrust on Renewable Energy, because India has solar and wind potential to meet the demand. 'Now we cannot only depend on thermal and hydel projects to meet our energy demands', he concluded.
  • Swami Agnivesh, Rajya Sabha MP: He said that, "These whole general elections are caught in non issues; the real issues of the poor like rural electrification are being avoided and not discussed or debated upon. This is the most unfortunate part of this democracy which is leading to cynicism".
  • Sandeep Dixit (Congress): Refusing to be drawn into making a statement, he showed interest in discussing a de-centralized energy model based on Renewable Energy which is scalable and can be endorsed at the Central Government level.
  • Kapil Sibal (Congress): In a very brief meeting, Mr Sibal, breezily offered "120% support to renewable energy", but failed to have a discussion on the details.
  • Dr. Arun Shourie (BJP): He said that, 'Decentralised renewable energy is the way forward for India'.


After the string of political meetings, Sarpanch Anusuabai Kumbhre said, "we the rural poor of India are tired of paper promises that the political parties make every time during elections. The 'Electricity for all 2009' promise made by the ruling government yet remains unfulfilled; do not expect the rural citizens of the country to keep voting for politicians who make empty promises, we want solutions that empower us and make us self reliant. Energy and electricity access are the basic needs that will help us do so'.

Greenpeace has analyzed the manifestos of Congress (INC), CPI(M) and the BJP on the issue of climate and energy. Here are the results.

Climate change finds mention in all 3 of these manifestos for the first time. Each of them refer to the threat of climate change and while the BJP and Congress detail the manner in which they will address this critical issue, the left fails to articulate any details. Below is an analysis of the three manifestos on their promises on the issue of climate change and energy. 

  • All 3 parties acknowledge that climate change is an issue of serious concern.
  • The INC refers to the National Action Plan on Climate Change as representing its position on the issue however. The NAPCC which was meant to be made into 8 mission plans by the end of 2008, remained nothing but a vision document the mission statements never materialised. Further, the NAPCC itself does not have any clear targets or timelines and is merely an expression of intent and not a clear plan of action. 
  • The INC also frames the NAPCC as being a plan that "is an acknowledgment of our responsibility to take credible actions within the overall framework of meeting the development aspirations of our people for higher economic growth and a higher standard of living."  This fails to acknowledge the fact that addressing climate change today is the biggest opportunity and failing to do so will cost our economy very dearly in the future.
  • The BJP on the other hand does frame the debate in the context of opportunity rather than just see action to mitigate climate change as a threat to the economic aspirations of the country. "We recognise that containing global warming is essential to protecting life and security of people and environment. Mitigating the threat by building a low carbon economy is the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century."  Greenpeace feels that this is a positive framework in which to place climate action, versus a "burden sharing" approach that the INC takes.
  • While it is encouraging to see that the BJP has targets for renewable energy expansion as a percentage of electricity and it is an ambitious 20% in 5 years, it fails to articulate what the portfolio of renewable energies will be. For example it is unclear if large hydro is included in this mix and to what extent it is.
  • The banking of electricity in the grid is very encouraging in the BJP manifesto. This would provide the incentives for individuals and firms to become energy producers, and not remain merely passive consumers. The details however are missing.

For more information, please contact:

Siddharth Pathak, Climate & Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace India, + 91-9902883738

Vasudha Mehta, Greenpeace India Communications (Delhi), + 91-99589 80909