India says electrified all villages ahead of prime minister’s deadline

FILE PHOTO: Workers install new power lines on an electric pole on the outskirts of Ajmer, India, February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Himanshu Sharma/Files

MUMBAI – India has electrified all its villages 12 days ahead of a deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government said on Sunday, which could give the ruling party a boost ahead of a general election in 2019.

Asia’s third-largest economy has been held back for years by a power shortage, with industries having to cope with blackouts and hospitals forced to rely on diesel-run generators for backup.

But Modi said on Sunday that April 28, on the evening of which a remote village in the northeast became the last to be connected to the grid, would be remembered as a “historic day in the development journey of India”.

“Yesterday, we fulfilled a commitment due to which the lives of several Indians will be transformed forever!” Modi wrote on Twitter, as various ministers in his government took to social media to congratulate him.

Government data showed that all of India’s 597,464 census villages have now been electrified. When Modi took office in 2014, there were some 18,452 villages without electricity.

But just because all villages are connected to the grid does not mean all Indians have access to power.

The government considers a village electrified if it has basic electrical infrastructure and 10 percent of its households and public places including schools, local administrative offices and health centres have power.

Some people, however, said on Twitter their villages had yet to be electrified despite the government’s claim.

“No. Not every village yet,” said Twitter user Dilip Gupta, identifying his village in a district of Uttar Pradesh in the north. “Over the course of years my native place has been expecting electricity every year, but it hasn’t arrived yet.”

The World Bank said in a report last year that globally 1.06 billion people had no electricity, with India and Nigeria topping the list of most power-deficient countries.



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