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Modi sets 1,000-day deadline to power up India villages
[NEW DELHI] Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a 1,000-day deadline Saturday for every village in India to get electricity as he emphasies his commitment towards combatting poverty.
In a speech on independence day, Mr Modi urged state governments which are responsible for electricity to ensure that millions of households are finally linked up to the national grid.
"Even after so many decades of independence there are 18,500 villages in India which do not have electricity," Mr Modi said in on the 69th anniversary since the end of British rule.
"I appeal to the states and all other stakeholders to connect these villages with electricity system within 1,000 days," Modi added in his speech from the ramparts of Delhi's Red Fort.
The right-wing premier, who has been accused of doing too little to help the nation's poorest, said his government had already succeded in enabling 170 million people to open bank accounts for the first time under a government-run scheme.
"Financial inclusion of poor has been a priority and for decades people have been just thinking about it," said Mr Modi who came to power in May last year.
"But I am proud that we have included 170 million poor people in India's banking system. We have kept our promise.
"The poor are at bottom of the pyramid of development and we have to strengthen the base of the pyramid. If they are empowered, no one can stop us."