New Delhi, Oct 9 (IBNS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the government aims to provide 24x7 electricity to all households in the country and affordable access to electricity in the next 5 years.
"One of the principal development challenges confronting humankind today is to ensure that each person has affordable access to energy. Lack of access to energy deprives millions of people of a basic minimum living standard," Singh said this while inaugurating "International Seminar on Energy Access" at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.
"The problem is particularly acute for people living below the poverty line. The figures are quite staggering. Over 1.3 billion people in the world today lack access to reliable electricity," he said.
"Further, around 3 billion people rely entirely, or very substantially, on traditional biomass for their cooking energy needs. Women in 80% of rural households in our country and many other developing countries use firewood, agricultural waste and dung cakes to cook in poorly ventilated kitchens," he said.
The PM said under the ongoing Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme, his government´s goal is to electrify all the 600,000 villages of India.
"As a result of our efforts, more than 100,000 villages have been provided with electricity connections in recent years," said Singh.
"Now, only a few thousand villages in the country remain un-electrified. Besides, one million households in India are now using decentralized solar energy to meet their lighting energy needs. The Government of India aims to provide 24x7 electricity to all households in the country and affordable access to electricity in the next 5 years," he said.
The PM said the government tried to introduce LPG for cooking in rural areas.
"We aim to provide every individual household with clean cooking fuel. This is a huge task but it is not unattainable. It is something we must do on a priority basis. Most urban households cook with LPG. We have tried to introduce LPG for cooking in rural areas as well," he said.
Singh said around 12 percent of around 190 million rural households today use LPG to meet their cooking energy needs.
"Giving all the 240 million households in the country an entitlement of six LPG cylinders per year will require only around 25 million tonnes of LPG. This should be manageable for our country. But, extending distribution network to all villages may take time," he said.
The PM said at present renewable power represents about 12 per cent of the total installed generating capacity in India.
"The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, launched under the aegis of India's National Action Plan on Climate Change aims to install 20 Gigawatt of grid connected solar power by 2022. We hope to light up around 20 million rural households with solar home lighting by 2022.
"Overall, we aim at accelerating the overall deployment of renewable energy in India to achieve around 55 GigaWatt of renewable power by the year 2017," he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Union New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah mentioned that today renewable energy is competent to meet the energy requirement in rural areas and supplementing the urban energy needs.
"Energy access is an issue of over arching importance and is closely related to poverty, development, gender disparity, environment, health and also sustainability. Over three billion people in developing countries today rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating; about one and a half billion people are without electricity," he said.
The United Nations General Assembly has designated 2012 as the "International year of Sustainable Energy for All" and the two-day seminar is organized in recognition of the importance of energy access for sustainable economic development and supporting achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
The Government of India, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy along with other stakeholders - NGOs, civil society organizations and state governments - is promoting energy access for sustainable economic development.
About 30 countries are participating of which 26 ministers in the ministerial level delegation included the Prime Minister of Guiana, Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius from about 26 countries.
Over 100 foreign participants including senior government functionaries High level policy/decision makers, International Financial Institutions, Banks/ Financial Services Providers from participating countries, UN bodies/organizations, international players and NGOs etc are attending the event.
The major participating Country/Ministerial delegation includes Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Congo, Fiji, Georgia, Guatemala, Guyana, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Yamen & Zambia.