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Electrification of 1,450 Uttar Pradesh villages under lens, Power Ministry to seek CAG audit
The Centre is carrying out an on field verification in all 1,450 villages declared as electrified by Uttar Pradesh to probe if funds sanctioned for rural electrification by it have been pilfered. If found to be true, the power ministry will approach the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) seeking an audit, a senior power ministry official said.
The power ministry has asked rural electrification engineers called as Gram Vidyut Abhiyantas (GVAs) to carry out cross-verification of village electrification claims of the state. BJP president for Uttar Pradesh Keshav Prasad Maurya will also go to villages to ascertain whether power infrastructure and supply position is in line with the information available with the central government.
The decision has been taken by the power ministry after media reports highlighted that villagers of Nagla Fatela village in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, referred as electrified by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech, did not have electricity.
Modi had said that although Nagla Fatela was only three hours away from Delhi and it took 70 years for electricity to reach there. Media reports, however, said villagers were using 'katia connections' from agricultural feeders.
"As the work of establishing infrastructure for electrification was completed, we mentioned its status as completed. As the village already had power supply, we termed it 'electrified," said Dakshinanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Ltd (DVVNL), the concerned distribution utility, in response to a showcause notice from Rural Electrification Corp (REC) on Wednesday.
By Friday DVVNL admitted to illegal connections and resolved to dismantle the old infrastructure. "The reply makes it clear that Uttar Pradesh has admitted to mistakes and irregularities and has failed to provide regular electricity to the people while encouraging power theft and corruption," the power ministry official said.
Under the rural electrification scheme called Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojna, state governments identify and implement village projects and REC sanctions funds after vetting them
Of the Rs 22,533 crore sanctioned to the state in about 10 years for electrification, only 34% has been utilised. Only 22% of the 92,323 villages identified for intensive electrification are reported to be energized. Power, coal, renewable energy and mines minister Piyush Goyal earlier alleged that Uttar Pradesh has been asking for additional funds while not been able to utilise the existing ones.
While Uttar Pradesh blames the Centre, the Union power ministry accused the state of shoddy documentation and delayed execution. Uttar Pradesh principal secretary for energy Sanjay Agarwal was not available for comments.
The Hathras district was sanctioned Rs 108 crore of grant by REC in January 2014 and was declared as electrified after verification by DVVNL in October 2015. Of the sanctioned cost, REC has released an amount of Rs 24.6 crore of which nearly Rs 25 lakhs was earmarked for infrastructure creation of Nagla Fatela.
REC's wholly owned subsidiary REC Power Distribution had last year appointed 309 young local rural electrification engineers at block and district level to monitor the progress of rural electrification in various states. REC Power Distribution will relocate some GVAs from other states to complete assessment of the 1,450 villages in UP by end of this month.