THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thousands of children in Kerala might be missing out on their online classes, much more than the state government’s estimates, shows the data with the civil supplies department on non-electrified households. A high-level meeting chaired by the chief minister at the start of the academic year had charted out a plan to provide electricity connections to all households so that all students have access to online classes. The plan was based on the data on non-electrified houses with the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).
According to KSEB, the state has around 2,650 non-electrified households that fall in 63 remote hamlets, mostly inhabited by Scheduled Castes and Tribes. But the data with the civil supplies department, available on its website, shows that the state has 32,262 non-electrified households as on July 8.The data with the civil supplies department is periodically updated as per the NFSA (National Food Security Act) guidelines and hence considered to be authoritative.
This also raises questions over the government’s total electrification programme. Former power minister M M Mani had claimed that the state had achieved over and above the central norms on total electrification days before Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan declared the state as fully electrified in May 2017. As per the central norms, a village can be considered totally electrified if two public utilities and 10% of total houses are electrified. According to the minister, all households in Kerala, except 1,000 families, were electrified. But the figures with the civil supplies department never matched with the minister’s claim.
Data published on its website shows the number of non-electrified households in September 2019 and October 2020 were 47,244 and 47,704, respectively.KSEB chairman N S Pillai said efforts are on to give power connections to all households. “All children will get access to online classes. As directed by the chief minister, we have prepared a plan for the 2,650 families in remote hamlets. These families were left out in the electrification drive due to practical difficulties in laying power lines. Only underground cables can be laid in most of the places which escalates the project cost.
As per the current plan, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes department will bear the expenses of electrification of these households,” he said. On the contradiction with the civil supplies department data, he said: “KSEB collected the data with the help of our field-level officers. We believe it is true because we have already given 90 lakh household connections. Other than the 2,650-odd cases, there may be some cases in which connection cannot be given due to ownership or litigation issues. But it won’t be such a huge figure. We are ready to give connection to the eligible cases within hours if brought to our notice”
Outgoing Civil Supplies Director Haritha V Kumar said the data on non-electrified households was being revised periodically after the implementation of NFSA. Still, there may be some ineligible beneficiaries. “Non-electrified households under the priority categories are given more kerosene allocation. Now, officers have been directed to verify all such cards. The ineligible people would be excluded after the scrutiny,” she said. The civil supplies department updates the electrification data on a monthly basis.
2 depts and varied figures
Civil supplies dept data shows 32,262 households have no power connection, while KSEB says only 2,650 houses are yet to get electricity supply
As per the central norms, a village can be considered totally electrified if two public utilities and 10% of total houses are electrified.