India has been one of the world s leading developing countries in
providing electricity to both rural and urban populations. The
country s rural energy policies and institutions have contributed
greatly to reducing the number of people globally who continue to
lack access to electricity. By late 2012, the national electricity
grid had reached 92 percent of India s rural villages, about 880
million people. Yet, owing mainly to its large population, India
still has by far the world s largest number of households without
electricity. About 311 million people still live without
electricity, and they mostly reside in poor rural areas. Among
these, 200 million live in villages that already have electricity.
Less than half of all households in the poorest income group have
electricity. Even among households that have electric service,
hundreds of millions lack reliable supply, experiencing power cuts
almost daily. Achieving universal access to electricity by 2030 is
not financially prohibitive for India. The challenge of providing
electricity for all is achievable, ensuring that India joins such
countries as China and Brazil in reaching out to even its remotest
populations. The estimated annual investments necessary to reach
universal access are in the range of Rs. 108 billion (US$2.4
billion) to Rs. 139 billion (US$3 billion). Considering that the
country already spends about Rs. 45 billion ($1 billion) a year on
new electricity lines through the current government program, the
additional investments needed to achieve universal access by 2030
are quite reasonable. Investments are not the only hurdle to
providing electricity to those presently without service. Policies
will need to be aligned with the principles followed in other
successful international programs. The potential benefits of
electrification for those without service are quite high. The
benefits of lighting alone would approximately equal the
investments necessary to extend electricity for all. When
households that adopt electricity switch from kerosene lamps to
electric light bulbs, they experience an enormous price drop for
lighting energy and can have more light for a range of household
activities, including reading, studying, cooking, and socializing.
Households with electricity consume more than 100 times as much
light as households with kerosene for about the same amount of
money. The potential value of the additional lighting can be as
large as 11.5 percent of a typical household s monthly budget. If
universal access is achieved by 2030, the cumulative benefit for
improved lighting alone would equal about Rs. 3.8 trillion (US$69
billion) or Rs. 190 billion ($3.4 billion) in annual benefits. This
is greater than the cost of providing electricity service, and does
not even include such benefits as improved communications,
household comfort, food preservation, and income from productive
activities. With electric lighting, households can generate more
income, and children can have better educational outcomes and
income-earning potential. Without quality energy services,
households often face entrenched poverty, poor delivery of social
services, and limited opportunities for women and girls."
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