Even as Nitish Kumar government on Sunday claimed improvement in power scenario in Bihar through full page advertisements in newspapers, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal trashed it saying the poll-bound state’s power production is nothing but “zero”.
“Not a single MW or unit of electricity is generated by Bihar government owned power plants. The entire power supply to Bihar is being met by the Centre,” Goyal said.
“The Centre has been providing 2800 MW electricity to illuminate the state on day-to-day basis. Of which, 484 MW is not even the allocated share of Bihar,” he said.
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“The ground reality belies all those claims being made by the Nitish Kumar government about improvement in power situation in Bihar,” the Union Minister of State for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy told reporters in Patna.
Throwing a gauntlet to Kumar to speak out about the ground reality of power scenario in Bihar, Goyal asked him for how long the production will remain zero in the state.
On the state government’s claim that it has identified 2500 acre land for construction of an Ultra Mega Power Project in Banka district, he said identification of land was not enough and it has to be acquired by the state government.
The Centre has allotted a dedicated coal mine for the said project, but construction work was delayed as the state government has not acquired land, Goyal said.
Raising questions about transmission infrastructure of the state, the Union minister reminded Kumar about his promise in 2012 to people that if he failed to improve electricity condition he would not come to seek vote in 2015 election.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s criticism of power scenario in Bihar, Kumar said on last Sunday that all villages would be electrified within a year and it should not be confused with electrifying every household.
The transmission infrastructure comprising 628 power stations and 98 grid power sub-stations was not enough to provide electricity to all villages of Bihar, Goyal said.
Despite the state government’s claim about improved power scenario, the per capita electricity consumption in Bihar is only one-fifth of national ratio at 200 units against 1000 units at the national level, he said.
He also expressed concern at the ‘unacceptably high’ transmission loss rate of 46 per cent.
Hinting at corruption in the power department, Goyal said a staggering 46,000 transformers had to be changed in the state over the past five years due to their poor quality.
Goyal also contested state government’s claim of electrifying 26,500 villages so far, saying 19,251 villages were electrified before 2004, much before Nitish Kumar became the Chief Minister.
During Kumar’s tenure, the Centre has sanctioned Rs 2990 crore for intensive electrification of 12,828 villages to supply power to 30 lakh households during the 11th Plan (2007-2012), but the state government could carry out intensive electrification in only 3300 villages benefiting only 3.38 lakh households, he said.
“You (Nitish Kumar) owe an explanation to the people of Bihar as to why the intensive electrification target could not be met despite availability of funds?” he asked.
Pulling out more data, Goyal said that the Centre had given Rs 5200 crore to Bihar for electrification of 2927 villages during 12th plan (2012-17), but three years down the line only 590 villages have been electrified.
The state government has also failed in implementing intensive electrification of 21,800 villages during the 12th Plan as it has attained only two per cent target so far at 380 villages, the minister said.
As against the target of extending power supply to 54 lakh households under intensive electrification programme, only 32,000 households have been electrified.
The Union Power Minister slammed Kumar for claiming installation of 949 solar pumps under the Chief Minister New and Renewable Energy scheme saying it was the Centre which has sanctioned Rs 873 crore for installation of 1000 solar pumps.
Before talking to the press, Goyal signed an MoU with Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy for a skill development programme under which the state-owned Rural Electrification Corporation will provide Rs 10 crore for skill development project in Bihar and Eastern India benefiting 6400 people.
Earlier, Goyal announced electrification of 36 villages located in riverine areas of Patna and Saran districts through installation of two feeders of 11 KV each.
This project will be part of integrated budget of Rs 5727 crore sanctioned by the Union Power Ministry for development of power infrastructure in Bihar, he said.
Goyal also announced launch of a Rs 67 crore pilot project for supply of Uninterrupted Direct Current (UDC), a system developed by IIT Madras which guarantees uninterrupted power supply from the grid even during power-cut periods.
The UDC project will be launched in Sasaram, Buxar, Dehri-On-Sone and Vikramganj and completed over the next 1000 days, he said, adding that it would provide enough electricity to meet requirement for 2 or 3 bulbs, 1 or 2 fans, a TV set and charging mobile phones.