Rural Electrification: India


Definition of rural electrification:  A village will be deemed to be electrified if electricity is used in the inhabited locality within the revenue boundary of the village for any purpose whatsoever.

Current Status:                                                                      (Jan 2014 where not mentioned)

S. No Field Numbers
1 Households without access to electricity 75 million
2  Average Consumption
Rural Household 8 Units Per capita/month
Urban Household 24 Units Per capita/month
3 Village wise
Total Villages (as per 2001 census) 593732
Villages electrified ( as of august 2013) 560552
Percentage 94%

Thus, as on August 2013, a total of 32,227 villages of India are yet to be provided with electricity access. Out of a total of 593,732 inhabited villages as per the 2001 census, a total of 561505 villages were electrified.

Further out of these, there are at least 9,000 villages where the grid may never be able due to their remoteness and geographical constraints. India is paying huge developmental costs due to its energy poverty – education, health, and economic development are at a standstill in rural India.

State wise:

S. No. Percentage of electrified  Villages Total Number of  States Names of the States
1 100 % 9 Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Sikkim & Tamil Nadu
2 90-99 % 12 Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal and West Bengal
3 81-90 % 4 Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya,Uttar Pradesh
4 71-80 % 4 Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Orissa, Tripura

Sources of lighting: Kerosene and electricity are the main fuels used for lighting by Indian households, with a significant urban-rural disparity. About 42 percent of rural households use kerosene for lighting. By contrast, about 93 percent of urban households use electricity for lighting and only about 6 percent use kerosene. 

Lighting sourcekeroseneother 

In an urban context, electricity goes beyond meeting lighting needs. Electricity is used for heating and cooling purposes, for pumping water, for meeting cooking requirements, if not direct cooking, but in preparing dishes. Therefore from an urban household perspective, electricity and energy are more or less used as synonyms.

However, from a rural India context, electricity and energy are two very distinct issues, primarily because of the manner in which “electrified villages” has been defined in India Electricity Policies, but also because of the electricity supply to rural areas.

It is therefore pertinent to look at the sources of cooking and heating in households in India. Only 11.9% of India’s households have access to modern cooking and heating fuels, which include LPG/LNG, Electricity and Bio-gas sources. A good 87.7 percentage of households in rural areas do not have access to any modern sources of energy.

Sources of Cooking in India:cooking

Rural Electrification Approach: So far the interpretation of rural electrification programs has been the extension of the grid to cover the rural areas, so far not covered. This has certainly helped in making electricity available to a significant section. However, there are several limitations to the approach of rural electrification being treated as a grid extension issue. Only recently, most of the planners and policy makers have realized the futility of trying to achieve 100% electrification through grid extension. There is need for more comprehensive approach to rural electrification.

Rural load is characterized by dispersed population and low demand (resulting in low load densities). This in turn causes high capital costs of grid electrification. In order to cut down on the cost, often there are low voltage lines being drawn over long distances resulting in poor supply conditions. Moreover, the high levels of ATC losses significantly increases the marginal cost on the part of the utility in serving rural loads. All these put together acts as a huge disincentive for utilities to carry out rural electrification. This needs to seen in the light of the current environment, where the utilities are under pressure to improve performances and reduce financial losses. Evidently, this is not sustainable and there is a need to look for alternatives.


Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidhyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) was launched in April 2005. It aims at providing electricity in all villages and habitations in four years and provides access to electricity to all rural households. Importantly, this program has been brought under the ambit of Bharat Nirman.

Under RGGVY, electricity distribution infrastructure is envisaged to establish Rural Electricity Distribution Backbone (REDB) with at least a 33/11KV sub-station, Village Electrification Infrastructure (VEI) with at least a Distribution Transformer in a village or hamlet, and  standalone grids with generation where grid supply is not feasible .

Subsidy towards capital expenditure to the tune of 90% is being provided, through Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC), which is the nodal agency for implementation of the scheme. Electrification of un-electrified Below Poverty Line (BPL) households is being financed with 100% capital subsidy @ Rs.2200/- per connection in all rural habitations(Rs. 3000/- in XII Plan Programme).

Under RGGVY, Ministry of Power has sanctioned 921 projects to electrify 1,24,139 villages and to provide free electricity connections to 407.29 lakh BPL rural households. As on 31st March, 2014, works in 1,08,280 villages have been completed and 216.8 lakh free electricity connections have been released to BPL households.

Rural Elelctrfication & Panchayati Raj: The 11th schedule of the 73rd Amendment specifies 29 areas of responsibility covering different aspects of village life, which the State may transfer to the PRIs along with the necessary means and decision making ability. Rural electrification including electricity distribution is the 14th subject of the aforementioned Schedule.

Pursuant to the Amendment, many of the States have initiated moves to transfer the electricity distribution and rural electrification tasks to the Panchayats.

Agencies Involved:

Rural Electrification Corporation: Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC),  is a NAVRATNA Central Public Sector Enterprise under Ministry of Power, was incorporated on July 25, 1969 under the Companies Act 1956.

Its main objective is to finance and promote rural electrification projects all over the country.  It provides financial assistance to State Electricity Boards, State Government Departments and Rural Electric Cooperatives for rural electrification projects as are sponsored by them.

Models: Four broad categories of solutions for rural electrification needs:

  • Grid Supply with Distribution Strengthening – The key objective under this option would be to strengthen distribution and supply by extending grid connection and local community participation models in metering, billing and collection activities.
  • Distributed Generation with Grid Back up – The objective would be to augment grid power availability to the rural areas, using local resources, where available. In particular, in areas with low grid penetration and availability of grid power, standalone home systems or a standalone distributed generation facility (mini- hydro biomass, other technologies), could provide workable and economically viable solutions.
  • Independent Micro Grids with Local Generation – The objective would be to provide village or a cluster of villages (or hamlets) with electricity to create an independent self sufficient generation mini distribution network. It is more suitable where grid power inaccessible and local resources are available.
  • Individual home systems – Providing household electrification solution to remote isolated villages where there is no aggregated demand through solar home systems (or any alternate energy source) would be the objective under this service option.

What needs to be done?

A National Renewable Energy Policy should also be prepared by the New and Renewable Energy Ministry and establish a National Energy Access Mission (NEAM) aimed at providing modern and clean energy to all in sufficient quantity at affordable prices.