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Big surprise: UP, Bihar do well on clean energy index — electricity in all homes, LPG in most

The Niti Aayog’s SDG index reveals that all states, barring Chhattisgarh, have achieved 100 per cent electrification of households.

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New Delhi: The heartland states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar may not have fared well on Niti Aayog’s sustainable development goals (SDG) index on crucial social indicators such as health, infant mortality or education. But they performed fairly well when it came to electrification of households as part of the goal of ‘affordable and clean energy’ — in line with the national trend.

According to the report, these states have achieved complete electrification of households. They have also provided majority of the households with either piped natural gas (PNG) connections or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections. 

The Niti Aayog’s SDG index, released last week, looks at sustainable development goals set by the United Nations in 2015 to address key aspects of universal well-being across different socio-economic indicators.

India developed its own index to track its progress. Prepared by Niti Aayog, the index was first launched in December 2018, and the latest index (3.0) covers 17 SDGs and 169 targets.

Affordable and clean energy is among these goals, along with poverty eradication, good health, well-being, sanitation, economic growth, among others.

Andhra Pradesh is the top performer on the index for clean energy, with a 100 per cent score. UP has also achieved the same score while Bihar has scored 78. The overall India score is 92.

The latest report said all states, barring Chhattisgarh, have achieved 100 per cent electrification of households.

The number varies among union territories. Out of the eight UTs, four have achieved universal access to electricity — Delhi, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir and Puducherry. However, the other four — Daman and Diu, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli — have reported “null” when calculating percentage of household electrification.

Gujarat leads the states with 26 lakh PNG connections while West Bengal has no PNG connection yet, the report said. Among UTs, Delhi leads in both PNG and LPG connections, with 49.8 lakh LPG connections and 9 lakh PNG connections.

Goa, Punjab, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana are among the other top performers.

At the bottom is Meghalaya with only 47 per cent LPG and PNG connections. Madhya Pradesh with 85.24 per cent, Arunachal Pradesh (84.05 per cent), Bihar (76.55 per cent) and Jharkhand (75.79 per cent) also lag the others.

Also read: State of the states: NITI report shows who’s rising, who’s lagging and the gap in between

What the report shows

India’s target is to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and efficient energy services by 2030. The main aim towards achieving this goal is to upgrade technology and expand infrastructure for clean air, according to the report.   

The target is to increase the share of renewable energy in the global mix by 2030 and to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency at the same time. 

The report divided states and UTs as ‘achievers’, ‘front runners’, ‘performers’ and ‘aspirants’ in achieving the goal. In the 2019 report, Lakshadweep was in the aspirant category. However, not a single state or UT was in the aspirant category this time.

In another marked improvement, there are 20 states and UTs in the ‘achiever’ category now, up from zero in the 2019 report.

The first index, launched in 2018, said 95 per cent of the households in India had access to electricity, but only 43.8 per cent households in India used clean cooking fuels such as electricity, LPG or natural gas. 

The 2019 SDG index also states that at the end of August 2019, nearly 99.99 per cent of the households were electrified across India.

The 2021 report also listed other goals like increasing international cooperation on clean energy research and technology and fossil-fuel technology.

Electrification of households can be faulty indicator, say experts

Samrat Sengupta, programme director of the renewable energy team at the Centre for Science and Environment, explained that households with electricity is at times a faulty indicator of clean energy. 

“The Saubhagya Scheme on electricity does take into account erratic supply of electricity, quality of voltage and there have also been studies to show that in some villages there have been 12-15 hours of power cuts. Most of these households require a secondary source such as kerosene for lighting purposes,” said Sengupta.

Speaking about LPG connections, Sengupta said there were many dropouts in the LPG rollout due to the weak purchasing power capacity and gaps in supply for the second cylinder connection. While LPG was certainly cleaner than biomass or kerosene that was used in villages, not enough people were converting to it, he said.

“LPG requires a lot of infrastructure and is difficult to store and transport,” said Sengupta.

He called for pushing electricity as end use for cooking as well — induction cooking. “It is a lot more efficient than a stove and feasible as well,” he explained. By 2030, he said, India should target full electrification in rural cooking and household energy.

Also read: It’s Tamil Nadu and Kerala again, plus Punjab, that top Modi govt’s school grading index


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