New Delhi: Affordable access to energy is one of the main challenges which the world faces today, and India will ensure electricity to households in the next five years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday.
"Our goal is to provide electricity to all 600,000 villages of India. More than 100,000 villages were provided connections in recent years. Now, only a few thousand households remain un-electrified," the Prime Minister said.
"Our aim is to provide 24/7 affordable electricity to all households in the next five years," the prime minister said, inaugurating an international seminar on energy access co-organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Globally, he said, with 1.3 billion people had no access to electricity.
The link between energy access to the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) were well documented, Singh said, where minimum well being is defined as requiring access to affordable energy.
Prime Minister told the international audience that lack of energy in India bore most heavily on rural women, where 80 percent of household use material like firewood, dung cakes and agricultural waste for cooking in "poorly ventilated kitchens".
While urban homes in India mostly use cooking gas (LPG), only 10 percent of rural homes use LPG.
The Indian government aims to light 20 million rural household by 2022 and in this context its Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission is projected to install 20 gigawatt (GW) of grid solar power by the same year.
Renewable energy sources now contribute 12 percent of total generation capacity in India and the prime minister said that the aim was have about 55 GW of renewable power by 2017.
He said that both governments and industry need to engage in international cooperation on a large scale in the area of energy access.
Prime Minister concluded his address saying the goal of affordable energy to the poor would test global creativity and resourcefulness, and while India was fully conscious of its responsibilities in this, "South -South cooperation is vital to achieving universal access to energy."