At the end of a three-week drive to bring seven flagship schemes to 16,850 villages with a high number of poor, SC (Scheduled Caste) and ST (Scheduled Tribe) households, less than 30% of the target households received an electricity connection, while less than 40% got a gas connection, according to government data.
However, financial schemes for rural beneficiaries to get Jan Dhan bank accounts and sign up for life and accident insurance achieved a high level of saturation. A scheme to fully immunise all pregnant women, and all children under two years, also reached almost all targeted beneficiaries.
The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 14, the birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, to reach out to villages, most of which have a majority of Dalit and tribal homes.
The official objective of the outreach programme, which was launched a fortnight after nationwide protests against the dilution of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, was to “promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of government, reach out to poor households to enrol them in various welfare programmes.” Villages in Karnataka and West Bengal, where the election code of conduct is in effect, were left out of it.
The Saubhagya scheme to give every household an electricity connection reached 4 lakh homes, as against a target of 14.5 lakh homes, thus reaching 27% of the intended beneficiaries. Under the Ujjwala scheme to give gas connections to all homes, 39% or 5.6 lakh households were reached out of a total target of 14.4 lakh.
Till full saturation
A senior official at the Rural Development Ministry said that KYC (Know Your Customer) processing was still ongoing for many applicants, especially for the Ujjwala scheme, where a total of 11 lakh applications were received. The official added that while the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan officially ended on Saturday, the government planned to continue until full saturation was achieved.
Financial schemes also saw high saturation, with a higher number of Jan Dhan bank accounts being opened. The Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, a life insurance scheme, enrolled 73% of targeted beneficiaries, while the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, a risk insurance scheme for accidental death or disability, enrolled almost 88% of target beneficiaries.