I got the opportunity today to meet all my friends from those 18 thousand villages of the country where the electricity had reached for the first time. People here lived in dark for centuries wondering whether electricity would ever come to their village.I am happy that I got the opportunity to share your happiness today. The smile on your face and the discussion about how electricity would change your lives; these things are very important in themselves. The people who have seen electricity since their birth, those who have never experienced dark nights, don’t even know what dispelling darkness means. They don’t know what not having electricity at night in house or village means. Those who have never spent their lives in darkness, can’t understand this thing. It is said in an Upanishad: “Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamay” which means let the darkness be dispelled and be light everywhere.
I am fortunate today to meet those people who came to light from darkness. After waiting for years the life in these villages has brightened up. For each of us a day is 24 hours and everyone wants to utilise this time in the most productive manner for one’s own progress, for progress of his or her family and society and country. But, out of 24 hours if 10-12 hours of your time is wasted then what can you do ? Can you do the same amount of work in the remaining 12-14 hours ? You might be wondering what kind of question Modi Ji is asking. How it is possible that a person has just 12-14 hours ? Countrymen, it might sound weird to you but there are lakhs of families in thousands and thousands of our villages in remote and backward areas who have lived through this kind of life for decades. This kind of villages where electricity has not reached even so many years after the independence, the lives of people living there have been limited between sunrise and sunset. Sunlight determined their working hours whether it was study of children or be it cooking and serving of the meal or be it any other domestic chore. How many decades have passed since the independence of the country? However, you will be surprised to know that when we formed the government then there were 18 thousand such villages in the country where there was no electricity. It’s surprising what was the problem that the previous governments could not overcome to provide the electricity to thousands of villages living in darkness. Previous governments made a lot of promises about electrification but none of those was fulfilled. Nothing was done in this regard. It was year 2005, about 13 years back when a Congress government was in power and Manmohan Singh Ji was the Prime Minister. He made the promise that he would provide electricity to every village of the country by 2009. Not only this, the then President of Congress party also said that electricity will be supplied to every household by 2009. However, those promises were never fulfilled. Nobody took such promises seriously. However, we not only take our promises seriously but also try to find out the shortcomings in our work and try to do better. I believe that this is the strength of democracy that we should always try to do better and make things public to ascertain if there is something wanting. When all of us work collectively then excellent results are there.
I said this earlierfrom the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 15th of August. That we had set a target that we will provide electricity to every village of the country in next thousand days. The government started working on this direction without any delay. We did not discriminate in this thing. From North to South, from East to West, we dedicated ourselves in the work to provide electricity to all those village in every part of the country under DeenDayalUpadhyay Gram JyotiYojana that were deprived of electricity.Under this scheme a separate feeder system has been started for supplying electricity to farmers in addition to the electrification of villages and habitations and strengthening of distribution system. It was also ensured that all the villages of the country and all the habitations are linked to them, whether they are small or large, should be covered in the scheme one by one and thus, Ujala scheme continued to expand.
No village or habitation, even if it has a very small population, should be excluded from the facility of electricity and we have been working by keeping this goal in mind. In those villages and habitations where it was not possible to link them with the grid the arrangements have been made to supply off-grid electricity to them. The day of 28 April 2018 will be remembered as a historic day in India’s developmental journey. Leisang village in Manipur was the last village to link with the power grid. It was a moment of pride for every countrymen. And I am happy that today I would like to start this conversation with the people of that village Leisang which was the last place to get the electricity supply. First of all, let’s listen to them that what they have to say. They are in the Senapati district of Manipur.
Look! My dear countrymen we have just heard the different experiences shared by them that how their lives have become easier after the supply of electricity. Most of those 18,000 villages where electricity had not reached are located in the extremely far-flung areas of the country. Like they are located in snow-clad mountains in hilly areas or they are surrounded by dense forests or they fall under the disturbed areas due to Naxal and militant activities. It was no less than a challenge to supply electricity to these villages. These are those villages where there are no means of connectivity and it’s not easy to reach there either. There are several villages like that. Equipments were transported through different modes of transportation like on horses or on mules, or on shoulders or through boats. There were several villages like 35 villages in Jammu & Kashmir and 16 villages in Arunachal Pradesh where equipments were to be transported through helicopter. I believe that it’s not the achievement of the government. It is the achievement of every single person, it is of those villages who were associated with this task or the credit goes to those low level government employees who worked hard day and night and suffered the difficulties. They carried poles on their shoulders, this is the work done by the low level government employees. It is their work, be they are electricians or technicians or labourers. It is the result of serious efforts made by them that today we are able to supply electricity to every village of the country. I thank to all those people on behalf of the entire country. I convey my best wishes to them.
You see when we talk about Mumbai we are reminded of high rise buildings, a city and its roads sparkling with lights. Elephanta island is located at some distance from Mumbai. It’s a huge centre of attraction for tourism. The caves of Elephanta are part of Unesco’s world heritage sites. Indian and foreign tourists visit the place in large numbers everyday. I was surprised to know that despite being so near to Mumbai and despite being such an important tourist centre the electricity was not provided to the villages of Elephanta island even several years after the independence. And I never read about this thing in news papers nor a big TV show was ever conducted on this issue that there was darkness in the area. And no one cared about that. Yes, now people are happy there. Now when we are working there then people come to tell that light has not been supplied to left or right side, it has been supplied to forward areas but not to rear areas, like this: small grid is working or large grid is working. All these things are taking place. Had all these things taken place earlier? Could anybody imagine that the people of our tourist destination, people of villages of Elephanta island, have been living their lives in dark for the last 70 years. The electricity has been provided to them by laying undersea cables. Today, darkness of those villages has disappeared. When the intent is good, when the intent is clean and when policies are clear then even the most difficult goals can be achieved.
Let us go to some other area. First of all let us go to Jharkhand.
Look brothers and sisters,
Previous governments have not paid special attention to the development of the eastern region of the country. This region was deprived of development and different facilities. This thing could be understood in this manner that those 18,0000 villages of the country where there was no electricity, this figure is bit surprising for the country, that 14,582 or nearly 15,000 villages of those 18,000 villages without electricity were located in our eastern region. And 5,790 villages, nearly 6,000 villages were located in the North-East and Poorvanchal, they were from North-East India. Look! You would be watching it on TV, see in this map the areas which appear in red colour, all these areas were in dark. Now tell me if they wanted to benefit everyone would there be such a situation there ? But these areas were not thickly populated. Number of parliamentary seats in these places is also low so those previous governments never considered them of any interest to them.Those previous governments did not care to electrify these villages with thin population because that did not suit their political interests. I have always believed that India’s developmental journey will pick up further speed when there will be fast paced and balanced development of people living in the eastern part of our country.
When our government was formed we moved forward with this approach and we started making efforts in the direction of connecting the North-East with the mainstream of development. And most important thing was to provide electricity to the villages of the North-East in order to achieve this thing. And I am happy that today electricity has not only reached to the villages of the North-East but it has reached to every village of the country. Darkness in the rurala areas has been eliminated. Who knows it better than you people that what kind of changes are being brought about in the lives when there is a supply of electricity.
I get a lot of letters from people across the country. People share their experiences with me and I get to learn a lot by reading those letters.
You can imagine that what a big change has been brought about in the lives of common people living in the rural areas after their villages have been electrified. Now darkness no longer controls the lives of village people but they themselves control their lives. Now the sun sets at the time of sunset but people’s day does not end with the sunset. Children can easily study in the light of bulb even after the sunset. Now the village women don’t have to start cooking the dinner from afternoon which was the case earlier. Earlier this was the issue that food has just been cooked please have it early, this cycle has ended. People have come out of those worries. You will find that markets are open till late in the night. People don’t have to go far to look for shops to recharge their mobiles. If you had left mobile in some other village in the night and if you go to collect mobile in the morning and if someone commits something wrong using that mobile then blame used to fall on you and people landed in jail. What kind of difficulties were there! People from Jammu & Kashmir are amongst us, let’s listen to them because all those equipments were supplied in those hills with great difficulty by using helicopters so I would like to listen something from my brothers and sisters from Jammu & Kashmir.
Look, thousands and thousands of people those who are connected with us today know what a big impact electricity has made on their lives. Today, the electricity has been provided to every village of the country but it is not like that we are content with just that thing. And that is why our government has made a solemn pledge to provide electricity to every household of this country by going beyond this achievement to realise the dream of Pandit DeenDayalUpadhyayJi who thought of development of the last man. And in this direction Pradhan MantriSahajBijliHarGharYojana, the abbreviated word for which is Saubhagya Yojana, has been started. Electricity connection to all the households that have been left out, whether in cities or in villages, is being provided under this scheme. And we have set a target of providing four crore electricity connections under this scheme. And we have been working in the mission mode to achieve this target. Electricity connections have been provided to nearly 80-85-90 lakh households so far under this scheme. Electricity connections are absolutely free for poor families and only Rs. 500 will be charged from capable families which can be repaid by you people in 10 easy installments along with electricity bill. Modern technology has also been used to achieve the goal of providing electricity to households in the stipulated time. In order to provide electricity to households in the least possible time camps have also been organised in the villages where electricity connections are approved by completing all the formalities at the spot.
In addition to this, provisions for solar power and systems based on the solar power have also been made for the families living in the remote areas and also in those areas where access is difficult. I believe that electricity does not only provide light it also instills confidence in people. Energy, in a way, it can also become an important tool in the fight against poverty. The electricity which has been supplied to villages, it’s not only eliminating the darkness that sets in after the sunset, this light is filling the light of progress in the rural people and villages. And the proof of this thing is your experience which you people have shared after this change has been brought about in your lives and which you people have shared here with us. The entire country has heard you. There are several other villages but there is paucity of time, the parliament is in session and I need to be there but I would like to certainly greet some villages. Namaste to Bastar and Alirajpur, Namaste to Sehore and NavPada, Namaste to Sitapur and sometimes you people would have seen this thing in TV or would have read this thing in newspapers, you would have listened the speeches of our opponents, you would have heard those who sing paeans in the praise of our opponents. They say that there is no electricity in so many homes. You please see that it is not a commentary on us or on our government. It is the commentary on those people who have been running the government from the last 70 years. It’s not our criticism. It is the criticism of those people who have left so much work pending. We have been just trying to finish that.
And that is why if there is no electricity in 4 crore households then it does not mean that earlier there was electricity in your house and your villages and now the electricity supply has been cut by Modi government after formation of the government, it does not mean that Modi took away all the electricity poles and wires. It’s not like that. There was nothing earlier. We have been trying to install that. And that is why those people, our opponents who abuse us with great enthusiasm that there is no electricity in this or that household, that no pole has been installed there. No one has installed it earlier and we have been trying to install that. And if we continue to receive your support… and all those low level employees who have worked hard we should not discourage them. You may abuse Modi as much as you want to. However, those low level workers who work hard, who try to bring light in the village we should respect them, we should praise them so that they have been encouraged then whatever problems are there in the country we can solve them at the level of families, at the level of society and evict them out of the country one by one. Eventually this is the task for all of us, it is not our job to merely count the number of problems. Our job is to find the ways to solve the problems.
I am confident that the God will give strength to all of us. Our intent is clear. We have so much love in our hearts for all of you that whatever we do for you that is not enough. We will continue to work for you. And I would like to show you a video in the end. Let us watch this video after that I will conclude my speech.