The launch of the GARV dashboard in October 2016 was a key milestone in the history of rural electrification in India. The dashboard, which is available as a mobile app as well as a web portal, provides real-time information on the electrification status at various levels (state, district, village, etc.). This has increased the accountability of stakeholders and brought transparency in the electrification process. The dashboard has addressed several issues with the earlier monitoring mechanism including ineffective tracking, delays in reporting, record of progress only in numbers, a pile of paperwork, lack of transparency and lack of accountability.
Following the prime minister’s announcement to electrify every village in the country by May 2018, rural electrification work started in mission mode under the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY). This led to the launch of the GARV dashboard. Since the government is nearing the 100 per cent electrification mark, it has now shifted its focus to 100 per cent household electrification. To this end, it has released GARV II, which incorporates household-level data in greater detail and expands the scope of the dashboard to include all 600,000 villages in the country, as against the 18,452 unelectrified villages (as on March 31, 2015) tracked under GARV I.
The GARV dashboard has been developed by REC Power Distribution Company Limited (RECPDCL), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rural Electrification Corporation, which is the nodal agency for monitoring rural electrification. RECPDCL is also responsible for day-to-day monitoring, website maintenance, control room set-up, call centre and quality surveillance, etc. The dashboard has received several accolades including the Digital India Award 2016, for featuring among the top three apps that brought good governance in the country, and the Skoch Smart Technology Award, 2015. Besides, it has gained significant popularity among end-users, with over 78,000 downloads on the GARV app and over 2 million hits on the GARV portal.
Electrification monitoring mechanism
RECPDCL has developed an innovative mechanism for tracking rural electrification progress. The mechanism primarily entails visiting an engineer at the ground level, capturing pictures of the landmark and infrastructure and providing real-time updates on the GARV dashboard. The dashboard includes village-wise information on milestones, photographs global positioning system (GPS) coordinates depicting progress, timely updates on implementation hurdles, if any, habitation-wise infrastructure and tracking of delay in implementation of works. The dashboard also provides information on the electrification status of a state, district and village, the management information system, uninhabited villages, geographic information system mapping, etc.
In order to track village-level electrification progress, the entire electrification process has been divided into 12 milestones. These are updates on survey reports, receipt poles, erection of 11 kV poles, erection of low tension (LT) poles, receipt of line material, stringing (11 kV), stringing (LT), receipt of distribution transformer (DT), erection of DT, completion of electrification and below poverty line connections, energising and handing over of villages. The progress on these milestones is tracked by electrical engineers appointed at the block and district levels who are known as Gram Vidyut Abhiyanta’s (GVAs). Each GVA is equipped with a tablet and a mobile app for updating real-time progress along with photographs. On an average, 20 villages have been assigned to each GVA and each GVA visits at least five villages in a week. The GVAs take photographs of individual milestones achieved and upload the status on the mobile app. The day-to-day activities of a GVA are monitored by a Regional Vidyut Abhiyanta (RVA) operating from a control room. RVAs also approve the reports provided by GVAs. A village is declared electrified on the GARV app only when it is confirmed by the discoms and checked by GVAs.
Launched in December 2016, GARV II is a more comprehensive version of the previous dashboard with electrification details of all the 600,000 villages in the country comprising 1.5 million habitations and 170 million people. It provides village-wise and habitation-wise baseline data on household electrification for all states (as provided by them). The revised app is a significant step towards providing electricity to all households, and aims to meet the government’s target of 100 per cent household electrification by 2019.
Another unique feature of the GARV II app is the citizen engagement window called SAMVAD. It aims to enhance public participation in the electrification process, by allowing citizens to give feedback and suggestions, which are automatically forwarded to the concerned managing directors and superintending engineers of discoms through an SMS or an email on the dashboard for online monitoring and further action. This enables greater public participation in the development work and opens rural electrification work to scrutiny. In addition to this, GARV II maps the status of village-wise works sanctioned under the DDUGJY and the funds released for the projects. The progress on the various works is updated by the implementing agencies of the states on a day-to-day basis. In addition, a separate dashboard has been provided for managing directors and superintending engineers of discoms for online monitoring.
To conclude, the GARV dashboard has been able to bring the much-needed transparency in the country’s electrification process. Besides, close monitoring of the electrification process by various stakeholders on the dashboard helps keep a check on delays anywhere in the electrification process and at all levels.