[Answered] How far do you think government policies have been successful in ensuring reliable electricity supply?

Introduction: Explain the present scenario of electricity access in India with data.
Body: Write the steps taken by the government to improve electricity supply. Write the present challenges in the sector.
Conclusion: Give a way forward.

India is the third-largest producer and second-largest consumer of electricity in the world, with an installed power capacity of 383.37 GW, as of May 2021.

According to World Bank 97.8% population has access to electricity in India. The central government announced in 2018 that India has become a power surplus country, and all the villages have been electrified.

Government policies have ensured rapid growth in reliable electricity supply

  • Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS): Strengthened the sub-transmission and distribution networks across urban areas.
  • Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana: Improved access to rural areas by improving sub-transmission and distribution network.
  • SAUBHAGYA scheme: Improve supply of electricity to rural households and aspired to achieve 100% rural electrification.
  • Focus on renewable energy: India has multiple steps to increase renewable energy production and diversify India’s energy basket. Like National solar mission.
  • UDAY scheme: Attempted to improve financial conditions of DISCOMs.
  • Attracting Investment: 100% FDI is allowed in electricity sector to boost investment in the sector.
  • Other steps: Draft electricity amendment bill 2020, Promoting energy efficiency, Smart metering, private participation on coal mining, One Nation One Grid etc.

However, several challenges exist in access to reliable electricity.

  • Power deficit and regional disparity: The country continues to face both energy deficit and peak deficit, although at a marginal level. In 2017-18, energy deficit in the country was 0.7%, and peak deficit was 2%.
  • Low quality of supply: Rural electrification numbers have improved, but the quality of supply is questionable. Data also shows that about 53% of the villages receive electricity for less than 12 hours in a day for domestic use.
  • Poor financial health of discoms: According to CEEW, the gross debt of discoms across India will rise from INR 4.78 lakh crore in March 2019 to INR 6 lakh crores in March 2022. This affects retail consumers and power producers.
  • Poor capacity utilization: The capacity utilisation of thermal power plants has declined from 78% in 2009-10 to 61% in 2018-19.
  • High AT&C losses: Average losses across India are over 20%, which severely restrict the ability of discoms to earn revenue.

According to International Energy Agency, the primary consumption of energy in India to double as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to expand to 8.6 trillion US by 2040. This requires proactive efforts from government to address the existing challenges and ensure reliable electricity supply in India.

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