The FM lauded the government’s efforts for providing electricity to all households of the country through the Prime Minister Saubhagya Yojana under which poor households are given free electricity connections.
New Delhi: The Union Budget for 2018-19 tabled in Parliament today has sought to achieve universal energy access with focus on expanding the coverage of flagship schemes aimed at providing cooking gas and electricity connections to the poor.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech also talked about incentivising uptake of solar power by state discoms for the benefit of farmers using solar pumps for irrigation. A provision for curbing air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region was another key intervention with implication for the energy sector.
“We launched Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Scheme to make poor women free from the smoke of wood. Initially our target was to provide free LPG connections to about 5 crore poor women. But in view of the pace of implementation of Ujjwala scheme and its popularity among the women, we propose to increase the target of providing free connection to 8 crore poor women,” Jaitley said.
The FM also lauded the government’s efforts for providing electricity to all households of the country through the Prime Minister Saubhagya Yojana under which poor households are given free electricity connections. “We are spending Rs 16,000 crore under this scheme. You can
very well imagine our anxiety and restlessness even with one hour power cut. Think about those women and children whose houses will not get electricity. Their life is going to change because of Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana,” Jaitley said.
The Finance Minister also said that many farmers are installing solar water pumps to irrigate their fields. “The government of India will take necessary measures and encourage State Governments to put in place a mechanism that their surplus solar power is purchased by the distribution companies or licencees at reasonably remunerative rates,” he said.
The budget has also sought to address the issue of rising pollution in northern states mainly as a result of crop burning by farmers. “Air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region has been a cause of
concern. A special Scheme will be implemented to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue,” the FM said.
This year’s budget also provides for measures for promoting investment in social services in 115 identified districts across the country including a focus on rural electrification apart from health, education, nutrition, skill upgradation, financial inclusion, irrigation and access to toilets.
Jaitley also mentioned the just concluded acquisition of downstream petroleum refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) by upstream explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in his budget speech.