Patna, Aug. 16: Nitish Kumar has announced he would not go to the electorate to seek votes in 2015 if he failed to improve the power situation, a huge dare for the chief minister of a state which thus far has little generation capacity.
“I have promised to improve the power situation. If I fail to do it I will not go to seek votes in the 2015 elections. I have taken it as a challenge,” Nitish said, during his Independence Day address at Gandhi Maidan yesterday.
But he was confident of an improvement in the situation. “We are working on the power front ever since 2006. We are not sitting idle,” the chief minister said.
Nitish’s challenge is a big ask as Bihar, at present, generates a little over 50MW of power from its small hydel projects. The state is dependent on 1,833MW of power supplied to its share from the central sectors and it buys 500MW from private sectors against its demand of over 3,000MW.
What has goaded Nitish to take up the challenge is the fact that several power projects are in the pipeline in Bihar with a promise to yield generation from 2013-14 onwards. They include renovation, modernisation and expansion of the Kanti and Barauni thermal plants — both belonging to the state electricity board — that promise generation of nearly 1,000MW, completion of phase-II of the Barh super thermal power plant of 1,320MW in 2013 from which the state would get 50 per cent in its share, an agreement with the private power players to buy 1,000MW in phases from 2014 for the next 25 years besides the 1,980MW Nabinagar super thermal power project supposed to be completed by 2015-16.
According to the central regulatory commission (CEC), the state’s demand of power in 2015 will be around 4,000MW. The Nitish government hopes to meet the demand through internal generation, its share in the central sectors and purchase from private players by then.
Aware of the difficulties in the way of meeting the challenge, Nitish said: “I request you to be patient as power units have relatively longer gestation periods. But I am not sitting idle… I am working day in and day out ever since 2006. I am confident that the state will become self-reliant in power in the next three-four years.”
Nitish said his original target was to make the state a power-surplus one so that it could be in a position to supply energy to other states. “However, we have to achieve self-reliance in the sector first to achieve our bigger goal,” he added.
Nitish expressed happiness over Barauni thermal power plant’s expansion unit getting coal linkage. “We had relatively less share in the Barh project. But our efforts have paid off for we will get 50 per cent share in production from phase II of Barh thermal power project. We will get 25 per cent from its phase I also.”
He said the government had already embarked on the ambitious project to replace the 72,000-km of dilapidated transmission and distribution lines.
The chief minister reiterated his demand for special category status to the state, saying: “The demand can no longer be ignored.”