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Affordability of Streetlight Services by Gram Panchayats in Karnataka Status, Determinants and Ways Forward
Community lighting is a public good, the provision of which is considered to be essential to improve the quality of life and to promote orderly social life. Article 243G of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment transfers the function of rural electrification to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), wherein Gram Panchayats (GPs) are held responsible for the installation of electric transmission poles, and operation and maintenance of streetlights. In the context of limited fiscal decentralisation in Karnataka and growing dependence of GPs on grants from higher levels of government, the paper analyses the question of whether GPs can afford the provision of streetlight services. With the help of data collected from 5,212 GPs in Karnataka, the paper concludes that GPs are not able to afford the expenditure on operation and maintenance of streetlight services. Regression analysis on factors influencing the affordability of GPs in the provision of streetlight services shows that grants to GPs and the number of streetlights installed per 100 households are the main determining factors. The paper discusses the policy suggestions emerging from the analysis.
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