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Government vows to electrify all rural households by May 2018

Government vows to electrify all rural households by May 2018

Assam stands to win in being the most progressive state in making power in every household, a reality, expressed Power, Coal, Renewable Energy and Mines Minister Piyush GoyaL.

He also highlighted that five times more villages were electrified in 2016-17 under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana as compared to 2013-14 and free electricity connections were provided to 256.81 lakh below poverty line families up to April 30, 2017. Many villages in remote or forest areas in state have already been given power connections through off-grid solar panel systems, the power minister said while interacting with the media in Jaipur and other cities via video conference from New Delhi.

About lower rates on coal under GST, he said, "The coal sector will also benefit (due to GST) with straight away benefits to consumers because (higher) taxes used to be a burden on consumer of India".

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Coal is now taxed at 11.69 per cent. Goyal said that since the rural per-capita power consumption is low, the electrification schemes would not have a significant growth in the demand scenario. I am delighted that the GST Council has chosen to keep coal at 5% slab.

A senior executive at state-run power producer NTPC said the reduction in tax incidence of coal would result in 6-7 paisa per unit decrease in electricity generation cost. "Tariffs for solar projects vary from project to project. The rise will be compensated by the decline in corruption and operational difficulties", he said. "It would need to be seen if any exemption notifications would be released by the government in this regard", he said.

A village is considered electrified if public places and 10 per cent of its households have access to electricity. "However, Rural Electrification Corporation has speeded up the process and has taken up the task at full gear".

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Goyal had earlier said that the Centre is ready to fund the smart metering programme in the states.

Goyal said the government aims to provide electricity to hamlets in Rajasthan through off-grid projects and is drawing up a schedule to achieve the goal in the next 18 months.

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