Govt’s free LED bulb scheme ‘lights up’ political row

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government’s move to provide free LED bulbs has sparked off a political debate with BJP accusing the ruling BJD of hijacking people oriented schemes of the Centre.

In its annual budget for 2018-19 fiscal, the State Government has approved a new scheme ‘Ama Ghare LED Light Karyakram’ under which every household will be provided with 4 LED bulbs free of cost.

A budgetary outlay of Rs 125 crore has been made for project.

With the general elections round the corner, talks are doing rounds that such move of the government is an attempt to counter the Union Government’s flagship Unnat Jyoti Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) programme under which one can avail low cost LED bulb by paying Rs 70.

The Opposition has termed such move of BJD as a manoeuvre to gain political mileage ahead of 2019 general elections.

“This is just an attempt by the state government to hijack the people-oriented schemes of the Centre and take credit for the same. One thing is clear from this issue that the state government is nervous ahead of the general polls,” BJP Spokesperson, Golak Mohapatra said.

On the other hand, the ruling BJD has sharply refuted the statements made by the saffron party.

BJD spokesperson Amar Satpathy said, “Till now the BJP has not learnt anything from its mistakes on who copies from whom. The saffron party was also making similar statements in Bijepur but what happened.

Satpathy further stated that the state government is always implementing new and innovative schemes which are positive and beneficial for the people.

Statistics reveal that till date around 1, 26, 85, 319 people in the state have availed benefits from the Centre’s UJALA scheme.

As under State government’s project only under privileged and below poverty line (BPL) families can avail the benefits, this has led to uncertainty over what would be the benchmark for availing the benefits of the new scheme.

The Electricity Consumers’ Association has demanded the state government should implement new guidelines for clearing such confusion.

President of Electricity Consumers’ Association, Ramesh Satpathy said, “It should be made clear as to who will be the actual beneficiaries. How are we going to know whether they will be BPL or any other category so the state government should define the minimum threshold for distribution of the benefits in a clear manner.”