June 19, 2020
New Delhi: India is committed to provide Affordable and Clean Energy for all (7th SDG) by 2030. There are more than 20 crore Indians who don’t have access to electricity and about 26.4 crore people who still use the solid biomass for cooking.
India has worked towards moulding its policies to aim at raising the per-capita energy consumption in the country. The government has been active in introducing several programmes and schemes to make clean and affordable energy available to all strata of people. It has taken great strides in provisions of clean energy and power and is currently running one of the largest renewable capacity expansion programmes in the world. In the early months of 2018, India was successful in providing electricity to all its census villages. Six states (Goa, Gujarat, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu) and one Union Territory (Puducherry) have achieved universal access to electricity.
To achieve the goal of providing continuous power supply to households, the government has introduced schemes like the Prime Minister’s Programme for Easy Electricity for Each Household which aims at achieving 100 percent electrification in India. Similarly, the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana scheme focuses on providing continuous supply of power to rural households and agricultural consumers.
About only 40 percent of Indian households use clean cooking fuels. There is a stark and a significant divide between rural and urban households where only 24 percent of rural households use clean cooking fuels as compared to more than 81 percent urban households. The LPG subsidy, under the Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG (DBTL) or PAHAL (Pratyaksh Hanstantrit Labh) scheme has aimed at reducing the cost of Liquified Petroleum Gas cylinders. With a budgetary allocation of Rs. 8,000 crore, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to distribute 5 crore LPG connections to the women who belong to families Below Poverty Line (BPL). This highly popular scheme has now benefitted more than 5 crore families in India so far and the number of families using clean cooking fuel have shown an upward trend. This scheme benefits the general living conditions and health conditions of women who now have access to a regular supply of LPG cylinders and stoves. 
The Coronavirus pandemic has hit every rich and poor corner of the world. Lack or inconsistent supply of energy may hamper the containment efforts of Covid-19. Energy services are essential for fighting this pandemic. From powering health centres, maintaining a certain level of hygiene, to enabling communications and IT services through social distancing, a constant energy supply is important. Apart from this, the pandemic has majorly affected the impoverished section of the society. Keeping this in mind, as a part of the economic relief package, the Indian government has been distributing three free LPG cylinders to all the beneficiaries of Ujjwala scheme between April to June 2020. Around 85 lakh cylinders were distributed in April alone.
While the pandemic has posed new challenges to India’s energy distribution networks, a holistic approach to the problem with effective government policies would help in solving India’s energy problems while ensuring that affordable and clean energy reaches every one.
(Nandini Bhatnagar is an intern with OneWorld Foundation India)
1] Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Power, Govt of India https://powermin.nic.in/en/content/energy-efficiency
 SGD India Index Baseline Report 2018. Niti Aayog. United Nations. http://4dj7dt2ychlw3310xlowzop2.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/SDX-Index-India-21-12-2018.pdf Pg. 87-107 (Accessed June 17,2020)
 Ibid, pg 92 (Table 7.1)
 Ibid, pg 95
 Hindustan Times https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/as-covid-19-relief-around-85-lakh-people-given-free-lpg-cylinder-in-april/story-2172LpX5TCstZDqbuFB2gJ.html (accessed June 17, 2020)