Orissa has been one of the states most neglected by the Indian national government. Since Indian independence in 1947, the only major infrastructure improvement that has been made was the construction of the Hirakud Dam (Orissa). While that is one of the largest dams in the world, it was started by the British and the newly independent Indian government simply continued and completed it in 1956. Since then the Indian government has done relatively little to alleviate energy and general poverty in Orissa
Geographically, Orissa is divided into two parts, the coastal strip along the Mahandadi River which includes the capitol city of Bhubaneswar and the mountainous interior. The bulk of the population lives in the river delta while the interior is sparsely populated, however 85% of the population live in rural areas (Orissa, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation). Thus more people live outside of Bhubaneswar in the coastal plane than live within the city. But this also means that the close proximity of the rural and urban populations makes it easier for electrification plans to function as a hub and spoke system with Bhubaneswar in the center.
Orissa holds roughly one fifth of India's coal and the extraction of which has caused high levels of ecological damage in the area. While there are two national parks in the state, the Simlipal Tiger Reserve and the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, along with other relatively untouched natural areas, it seems that the push for development in Orissa will win out over the push to preserve the environment and these massive coal reserves will be exploited for power generation (Orissa). However, even if and when Orissa starts to make large coal power plants to utilize their available natural resources and provide greater energy security to its population the state still faces the large issue of distributing the power to the rural villages and households.
Orissa has a population density that is lower than the Indian average which means that any state grid system installed must cover a vast majority of the state's geographic area in order to provide power to all its villages and peoples (Orissa). Challenges to this grid that face Orissa, and much of the rest of the east coast of India, are cyclones and strong winds. These weather conditions threaten the grid by either blowing down the lines or blowing things into the lines and knocking them down. A method typically used to harden grid infrastructure against high winds is burying cables. However, the soil in Orissa is generally too waterlogged and flood prone to make burying transmission wires a reasonable technical solution to harden the electrical grid (Orissa). Also, the higher general costs of subsurface powerlines in comparison to overhead lines means that any attempt to make an electrical grid network in Orissa must be through suspended lines and the grid makers must be prepared to have high maintenance costs as the lines gets blown or knocked down.
Uttar Pradesh has the most diverse climate of the five states examined. Including some of the Himalayas, the state is subject to both snowfall averaging 10 to 15 feet between December and March and monsoons from June to September (Uttar Pradesh). Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India with over 190 million people and growing at 25% a year, however its economy is growing at one of the slowest rates in all of India at 4.4% a year (Ministry of Finance, Economist). Roughly 56% of its 138 million rural households do not use electricity as a source of lighting (RGGVY Brochure).
Its extreme weather and population size make it the least likely candidate for a successful renewable energy based solution to its rural electrification problem. However, its proximity to New Delhi, one of India's most prosperous and dynamic areas means that Uttar Pradesh may be able to piggy back on the New Delhi electrical grid as a means of providing reliable electricity to the state. In order to enact a far more ambitious and self-reliant electrification plan, Uttar Pradesh should look at its monsoons as a resource and not as a liability.
The state receives roughly 90% of its rainfall during the monsoon season of June to September and floods often occur as a result causing loss of live, property and crops (Uttar Pradesh). The governments of India and of Uttar Pradesh have a strong incentive to try to control and channel the rain waters to avoid flooding and provide adequate water throughout the year. One rather infrastructure and capital intensive method of controlling the floods is the construction of ditches, dykes, dams and reservoirs. If properly designed, this investment could pay for itself in the protection they provide to farmland and buildings in the region as well as by adding jobs and spurring economic activity. These flood waters should be controlled to increase general security in Uttar Pradesh. If these dams are built with electric generators, the energy security situation in Uttar Pradesh will improve as well.
While most of Uttar Pradesh fully lacks electricity, even those who have it, like the
These five states have a variety of problems that are serious impediments to electrical provisioning among their rural population. Bihar's corrupt government makes them dissatisfying partners to work with in increasing rural electrification in the area while the need for Jhakhand's state government to strengthen in the face of the growing separatist movement based there makes it more important to include them in efforts to increase rural electrification. Assam's environment should be kept as pristine as possible while still providing electricity whereas Uttar Pradesh's land and hydrology may have to be significantly altered to provide its population with power. Increasing rural electrification in these five states is a complex process where a wide variety of conditions, limitations and resources need to be considered. This complexity means that one size does not fit all in terms of rural electrification programs in India, however that is the current course of action of the Indian national government and its subsidiaries.
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