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Truth of India's '100% electrification'

Claim: According to the Government of India, the village of Leisang in Manipur was the last village in India to receive electrical connectivity. From the 28th of April, 2018, every single village in India has access to electricity.
Source: All major news portals, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram.
What Happened: A tweet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently made headlines in every news outlet in the country and many international ones as well. The claims in the post have also received widespread circulation - sharing, tweeting, forwarding - across all forms of social media.
The tweet claims that every single village in India has access to electricity after the electrification of Leisang, a Manipur Village. The post has received more than fifteen thousand retweets so far.
According to government data available on saubhagaya, there are no villages left to be electrified. Their target metre stands at 94% complete. This news was covered by all major national outlets in India and abroad, including TOI, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, and DNA, among many others.

The news was also reported by international media as well, but with a stronger sense of scepticism. For example, the Guardian highlighted how only 10% of a village needed to be connected in order to qualify as 'electrified'. The Washington Post also said how the government's claim comes at a time when millions are still living in darkness. Similarly, the BBC's report on this story cited figures that said the complete electrification of the country is a challenge that the government has not yet been able to surmount completely.
According to data available here, a large part of the target of households in India remains to be completed, however. The government has claimed that by 2019, all rural households in India will have electricity. According to its own progress tracker, about 82% of household receive electricity right now.
The PM's tweet and its claims were also shared all across Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp groups, and through Telegram broadcasts. However, a number of people left comments on these posts that stated that their villages were still devoid of electricity.
Facts: While most media outlets published the news of all Indian villages receiving electricity, a few also published reports how this is not the case. CNN and IndiaToday pointed out that there are still millions of people living without electricity.

A village is declared to be electrified if 10% of the households can access power along with public institutions such as schools, the panchayat office. According to the Government website, the number of un-electrified villages was 19,679 as of April 2015. This is considering the fact there are 649,867 villages in India.

According to the International Energy Agency, nearly 240 million Indians do not have access to electricity as of 2017. Moreover, government data has shown that 13% of 36.4 million electrified homes do not have a regular power supply.
IndiaToday also did a ground report wherein they identified a number of villages in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan that do not have any electricity.

Conclusion: It is a little disingenuous of the government to claim that every village in the country has received electricity, when their own data as well as the responses on social media demonstrate that many rural areas still remain off the grid. Media reports have also established that even villages which have been electrified have intermittent or inadequate electrical connections. Based purely on government criteria, this claim is true. However, on-the-ground realities paint a very different picture. The Prime Minister's claim, then, seems more than a little dubious as it is based on somewhat selective data.


Vrinda Aggarwal

Vrinda Aggarwal

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