Topic – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
4) Our policy needs to shift focus from universal electricity connections to upgradation of quality of supply and services. Comment. (250 words)
Why this question
India has recently achieved universal electrification after electrifying the last unelectrified village of India. However, it needs to be discussed as to why electrification alone will not solve India’s problems.
Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.
Key demand of the question.
The question wants us to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue in terms of forming an opinion for or against the statement. We have to justify the need to upgrade supply and electricity services along with the need to pursue universal electricity connections.
Structure of the answer
Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the recent achievement of India becoming universally electrified. E.g The government launched the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) for universal household electrification in September 2017 and subsequently announced the electrification of all Indian villages in April 2018.
Discuss the other issues which are faced by India and cannot be resolved by electrification alone. Bring out the need to improve supply and services associated with electricity. E.g despite steady progress in connections, much of the works envisaged for network investment and strengthening are yet to be completed; Lack of timely network investments jeopardises the provision of reliable, affordable power supply. Evaluation of rural electrification programmes also highlighted that the distribution transformers catering to villages had the capacity to support the load of only 10% of the households and thus the instances of overloading and transformer breakdowns were significant; Many of these supply and service quality issues, crucial to the sustainability of electrification efforts, have also been identified- Billing centres, repair houses away from villages, delays in billing leading to arrears and disconnection, voltage fluctuations, inadequate electrification of public spaces, unmetered connections, supply outages and low hours of supply etc; If supply is not affordable or the quality of supply and service is poor, it is likely that consumers will get disconnected. Poor quality of supply and service can also worsen the trust deficit between newly electrified consumers and the distribution companies (DISCOMs). This, in turn, would make programme implementation, increasing tariffs and even future metering and billing reforms challenging. Thus, if adequate attention is not given, such issues could impede the progress towards meaningful access to electricity, increase the possibility of the networks being disused or consumers resorting to power theft etc
Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.