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To support the national objectives and renewable energy targets specified in the National Solar Mission, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, has been strengthening the decentralised and off-grid programme through introduction of new schemes aimed at providing energy access to the rural population. MNRE has been providing Central Financial Assistance (CFA) for deployment of solar street lights, solar study lamps, standalone solar pumps, solar power packs, and other off-grid solar applications to meet the electricity, water pumping and lighting needs of the local communities/institutions/individuals in the rural areas.

In 2021-22, MNRE took the Centre for Regulation and Policy on board to revisit and evaluate the implementation of its off-grid and decentralised solar PV application programme (Phase-II) for  five states, viz. Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Manipur, and Mizoram, by  collecting  information  from  state  implementing  agencies, beneficiaries and other stakeholders, assess performance of the applications designed for different stakeholders, and develop the way forward for continuation of the programme along with required modifications in implementation process of the scheme.

Key tasks carried out under the evaluation study were:

Assessing status of implementation of projects sanctioned under the scheme.

Collecting and assessing feedback of stakeholders on implementation of the scheme.

Assessing the barriers, constraints, and providing remedial measures.

Assessing the impact of the scheme on living conditions, livelihoods and solar energy sector.

Conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the applications supported and indicate whether intended objective is accomplished.

Assessing efficacy of implementation models introduced by MNRE in the guidelines and recommend modifications where necessary.

The efficacy of implementation models was  assessed/analysed by adopting two phase approach (i) data collection through holding consultation with the implementing agencies, vendors, end users and  subject experts, (ii) through direct data collection from the field visits of the five states, and conducting consultations with field-level stakeholders. For the purpose of data collection through consultation meetings and field level surveys, structured questionnaire and formats were prepared.

The WISE team held virtual consultation meetings with the SNAs/ implementing agencies and vendors of the five states to understand the present status of programme implementation and get feedback about barriers /constraints/ issues faced. Consequently, the WISE team visited the five states for field level data collection and site survey, in consultation with the SNAs/implementing agencies. During the field visit, WISE collected primary information from the field and also held focused meetings / interviews with the SNA officials, local vendors, O&M service providers, and most importantly, end users.

After analysing the primary and secondary data, a comprehensive report was prepared where key observations, recommendations and way forward was presented. The final report was submitted to MNRE during the year under review.