Kerala, the vibrant southern state of India, achieved a historic milestone in its pursuit of progress and development. On the 29th day of May in 2017, Kerala proudly declared itself as India's first fully electrified state. This remarkable achievement was made possible through the tireless efforts of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the unwavering commitment of the state government.
The journey towards total electrification began in earnest when the Government of Kerala, in June 2016, set forth an ambitious mission: to electrify every household in the state by March 2017. The overarching goal was to provide seamless access to electricity by ensuring last-mile connectivity. To achieve this, the distribution network was expanded wherever possible, and for remote colonies or habitats where extension was not feasible, innovative solutions such as Decentralized & Distributed Generation (DDG) and Micro Grids were proposed.
One of the initial challenges faced was the identification of beneficiaries, as accurate data on unelectrified households was not readily available. To address this, multiple channels for registration were opened. Beneficiaries could register directly at local electrical section offices or through elected representatives. The creation of the web portal "Power For All," developed indigenously, played a pivotal role, with more than 1.52 lakh applicants registering for the project. Among them, approximately 1.2 lakh applicants belonged to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category, while SC and ST applicants numbered 32,000 and 17,500, respectively. This achievement underscored the project's success in providing electricity to underprivileged segments of society.
To expedite the process and reduce hardships faced by beneficiaries, the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC) approved simplified application procedures and forms recommended by KSEBL, in line with the government's directive. This meant that electricity connections could be granted based on a minimum of two documents: proof of identity and proof of ownership. The rules were further liberalized when KSEBL issued an order, again in line with government directives, to release electricity connections to residential structures with a plinth area of more than 100 square meters without insisting on proof of ownership.
In 2009, Palakkad earned the distinction of becoming India's first completely electrified district. Over the next two years, Thrissur, Ernakulam, and Alappuzha also achieved this remarkable status. During this period, 85 legislative assembly constituencies achieved full electrification.
It's noteworthy that the norms set by the central government for rural electrification require at least two public utilities to be electrified in villages, along with ensuring that at least 10% of total households have access to power. Kerala surpassed these benchmarks several years ago. However, the state government remained steadfast in its commitment to providing electricity to all Anganwadis and households. Kerala accomplished this remarkable feat at a time when nearly 4,000 villages and 4.5 crore households in the country still awaited access to electricity.
Kerala's journey to becoming India's first fully electrified state stands as a testament to its dedication to inclusive development and its commitment to improving the lives of its citizens. Through innovative solutions, efficient governance, and unwavering determination, Kerala has set a shining example for the rest of the nation to follow on the path to total electrification.