Modi launched a Rs 16,000-crore scheme, Saubhagya, that he said will deliver free electricity connections by December 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday he will not relent in his “battle against corruption” even as he sharpened his government’s development and welfarist image by announcing a mega scheme to provide electricity connections to four crore families deprived of regular power.
Modi launched a Rs 16,000-crore scheme, Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (shortened to Saubhagya, meaning good fortune) that he said will deliver free electricity connections by December 2018. However, they will have to pay the monthly power bill.
“Rs 16,000 crore will be spent to bring a monumental change in the lives of the poor,” the PM said while pointing out that a large number of people lacked electricity connections more than a century after the invention of the incandescent bulb. Even 70 years after Independence, four crore out of 25 crore families did not have a power connection.
The scheme reflects the Modi government’s focus on delivering on schemes like housing, power, loans and farm insurance to key sections of the electorate. Alongside electrification, the PM Awas Yojana has sanctioned more than 26 lakh houses for the urban poor and more than 1.76 lakh units have been constructed.
Another 11 lakh are being built while two lakh houses are complete under JNNURM.
Earlier, speaking at the BJP national executive, Modi said, “The battle against corruption will continue without compromise” and took a deliberate swipe at Congress, adding, “I have no relatives.” The dig was aimed at controversies surrounding Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Despite the opposition outcry over moves like demonetisation and implementation of GST, Modi said there would be no let-up in measures against corruption and anyone caught will be punished. “The PM reiterated that the battle against corruption is uncompromising and anyone involved will not be spared,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said while briefing the media.
Modi said opposition parties were hunting for issues. “There are no allegations against the government. However, harsh words can’t be a substitute for no substantial charge against the government,” he said. Slamming Congress, Modi said, “Satta unke liye upbhog ka sadhan thi (When they were in government, power was a means of enjoyment for them).” The Prime Minister said now Congress and others do not know how to behave like the opposition.
As he has often done, Modi sought to explain that he has experienced the travails of the less well-off, doing without electricity as a student. He also said that all villages would be electrified by December this year, beating the deadline of May 1, 2018. “When I first did a review, I was told this will take seven years. But I announced 1,000 days. I find that if you back officials they will deliver,” he said. The PM said schemes had to be planned and implemented with a sense of purposefulness.
Solar power packs of 200-300 Wp (watt peak) with battery banks for unelectrified households located in remote and inaccessible areas comprises of five LED lights, one DC fan and one DC power plug.