History of Electrification in India

Go back Anchalik Mishra
Expert in Urban Electrification

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  Scenario of Power Sector Prior Independence

Electricity!! Very common word for now which was not known by many earlier. Long before power came to the people, before that kerosene lamps used to glow after sunset.  P.W. Fleury And Company gave the first demonstration of electric lights in Calcutta on July 24, 1879. They used light bulbs to demonstrate electricity on the streets of Calcutta. Later on Kilburn and Co. electrified Harrison Road (renamed MG Road) in Calcutta in 1889. This was the first street to have electric light bulbs in India. Government of Bengal passed the Calcutta Electric Lighting Act in 1895. On January 7, 1897, Kilburn & Co secured the Calcutta electric lighting license as agent of the Indian Electric Corporation, which was registered in London on January 15, 1897. A month later, the company was renamed as the Calcutta Electric Supply Company. The control of the company was transferred from London to Calcutta in 1970. After success of electricity in Calcutta, it was introduced in Bombay in 1882 at Crawford market. Electricity was introduced in India 10 years after it was introduced in London and 17 years after in New York. First electricity connection in Lucknow was given to GPO names as Service Connection-1.

Some facts about electricity in India:

  1. Bombay electric Supply and Tramway Company (BEST) set up a generating station to provide electricity for Tramway in 1905.
  2. First hydroelectric installation in India installed near a tea estate at Sidrapong for Darjeeling Municipality in 1897.
  3. First Electric Train ran between Bombay’s Victoria Terminus and Kurla along the harbor Line in 1925.
  4. Electrification of metre gauge track between Madras Beach and Tambaram started in 1931.

 

The Electricity act of India was formed in 1910. This act allowed private companies to generate and supply electricity. The power stations prior independence were owned and operated by private companies. Since the term as well as use of electricity was not very popular with the localized peoples those days, therefore newspaper advertisement were used to promote the use of electricity for lightening and heating purpose. The generating stations installed pre-independence period fed loads in the urban areas and electrification of the villages was done mostly after 1947. Some of early power stations were:

 

  1. DARJEELING POWER STATION
  2. CALCUTTA ELECTRICITY SUPPLY COMPANY-EMAMBAGH STATION
  3. SIVASAMUDRAM POWER STATION
  4. METTUR POWER STATION
  5. TATA TRIO OF WATER PLANTS
  6. POWER STATIONS IN NORTHERN INDIA (JAMMU AND KASHMIR)
  7. PYKARA POWER STATION
  8. AISHBAG POWER HOUSE (LUCKNOW)
  9. TALKATORA POWER HOUSE (LUCKNOW)
  10. RIVER SIDE POWER HOUSE (KANPUR)

 

Scenario of Power Sector Post Independence

 

Power sector in India developed very rapidly post-independence when Electricity act passed. Electricity supply act passed in 1948 and this led to formation and beginning of State Electricity Boards (SEBs). Central Electricity Authority (CEA) also formed under this act, which was responsible for overall planning and development of power sector in country and assist Central Government on these matters. SEBs were self-governing for optimal utilization of resources in their respective states to increase the generation, transmission and distribution capacity of their states. Most states played very important role in development of power. Electricity act permitted continuation of the services of Calcutta Electric Supply Company, Bombay Suburban Electric Supply Company, Delhi Electric Supply Company, Ahmedabad Electric Supply Company and many others in which some of them were formed prior independence.

 

Planned way of development in Power sector started when a system of Five Year plans for economic development of country came into force in 1950. During first five-year plan, electricity board had been set up in the states of:

 

Region

States where Electricity Board set up

East

Orissa and West Bengal

West

Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra

North

Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh

South

Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala

 

Various steps were taken for the development of power sector, one of which was to divide the country in 5 regions Southern, Northern, North-Eastern, Western and Eastern. This was done in such a way that each region will be treated as single grid. These regional links were established to enable transmission of surplus electricity between States in each region.

 

Although, the state Electricity Boards were responsible for the development of power sector in terms of adding capacity in generation, transmission and distribution but due to some reasons they were not able to meet the growing demands that’s why central sector generating agencies were established to cater the load growth and improved efficiency.

 

The Electricity Supply Act was further amended in 1976, resulting in to the establishment of NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation), NHPC (National Hydro-Electric Power Corporation), and NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.

 

Power Sector in India has grown significantly since independence both, in the installed electricity generating capacity and transmission & distribution (T&D) system. Several amendments have been made in Electricity Supply Act. Since after the formation of SEBs, all the developments in power sector were implemented and funded by state itself but after Electricity Supply Act 2003, central government started funding for the schemes related to development and strengthen of power sectors. If we talk about the particular state, like Uttar Pradesh, there were the UPSEBs till 2000. Then to delegate the responsibilities UPPCL (Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation) has been formed and from 2003 onwards, UPPCL further unbundled to power utilities (DISCOMs). Government has introduced various schemes for the development of power distribution sector.

 

In our next article, we will understand further about various schemes launched by Government of India for creation of infrastructure and strengthening of power sector in urban areas.

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Thanks for sharing history of urban electrification.
Posted by : Sateesh Kuamr
Thanks mam for giving a nice article on History of Urban Electrification
Posted by : Bhawana Maurya
Nice article
Posted by : Prateek Tripathi
Really useful .. eagerly waiting for your next article

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