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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

India says all villages now have electricity

Target set by Prime Minister Narendra  Modi was achieved 12 days before deadline 

A billboard with picture of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi advertises the government's Saubhagya Scheme, a project to provide electricity to all households, on the outskirts of Alwar, Rajasthan. Anindito Mukherjee / Bloomberg
A billboard with picture of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi advertises the government's Saubhagya Scheme, a project to provide electricity to all households, on the outskirts of Alwar, Rajasthan. Anindito Mukherjee / Bloomberg

India has provided all its villages with electricity 12 days ahead of a deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government said on Sunday.

Mr Modi said that April 28, when a remote village in the north-east became the last to be connected to the power grid, would be remembered as a "historic day in the development journey of India".

"Yesterday, we fulfilled a commitment due to which the lives of several Indians will be transformed forever!" Mr Modi wrote on Twitter, as various ministers in his government took to social media to congratulate him.

The announcement could give Mr Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party a boost ahead of a general election next year.

Asia's third-largest economy has been held back for years by a power shortage, with industries having to cope with blackouts and hospitals forced to rely on diesel-run generators for backup.

Government data showed that all of India's 597,464 census villages have now been electrified. When Mr Modi took office in 2014, there were 18,452 villages without electricity.

But just because all villages are connected to the grid does not mean all Indians have access to power.

The government considers a village electrified if it has basic electrical infrastructure and 10 per cent of its households and public places including schools, local administrative offices and health centres have power.

Some people, however, said their villages had yet to be receive electricity despite the government's claim.

"No. Not every village yet," said Twitter user Dilip Gupta, identifying his village in a district of Uttar Pradesh state in the north. "Over the course of years my native place has been expecting electricity every year, but it hasn't arrived yet."

The World Bank said in a report last year that globally 1.06 billion people had no electricity, with India and Nigeria topping the list of most power-deficient countries.