| A sugar mill in Bagaha. Picture by Raj Hans |
The state sugarcane industry department has said two sugar mills — one at Riga in Sitamarhi and the other at Bagaha in West Champaran — would start power generation by the end of 2012.
“The government is in talks with the two mills run by private firms. It’s a matter of a couple months that the two mills will start generating power. Once that happens, the power sector will take a positive turn,” sugarcane industry minister A.P. Khuswaha told The Telegraph.
Officials of the Riga sugar mill, owned by the Calcutta-based Dhanuka Group, said talks were on with the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) regarding transmission lines.
“We want to start power generation by November. Along with the electricity board, we are conducting a survey for it. At present, we cannot say how much power we can generate. But we hope to generate at least 3-4MW by November. We cannot divulge more details, but we are in talks with the state government,” Yogendra Singh Bisht, the vice-president (technical) of the mill, said.
Sources in the Bihar Sugar Mill Association said five of the 11 sugar mills operational in Bihar generate power amounting to 55MW between November and May when sugarcane is produced. The sources added that the two mills in Riga and Bagaha are expected to collectively generate at least 17MW of power.
“These five mills include Hari Nagar and Lauriya Sugar Mills in West Champaran, Sidhawlia Sugar Mill in Gopalganj district, Sughauli Sugar Mill in East Champaran and the Narkatiyaganj Sugar Mill in West Champaran. Between November and May, these mills produce 55MW of power,” a source said.
The state government has leased out the mills in Sughauli and Lauriya to HPCL Bio Fuels Ltd, while the Birla Group owns the mills at Sidhawlia and Narpatganj. “The sugar mill at Hari Nagar is also privately owned by a Mumbai-based group,” Naresh Bhatt, the secretary of the Bihar Sugar Mills Association said.
“The state government has not been quite serious about the sugarcane industry in the state. There are quite a few mills that are either sick or closed. There are six more mills in a working condition, but they don’t generate power. It is a good news that two of the mills will start generating power,” another source in the association said.
The sources said though the Bihar Sugar Policy of 2006 states that the BSEB would work on the power transmission lines, the reality is not quite encouraging. “The board has asked the companies to do the work themselves and the money will be reimbursed to them. This is against the sugar policy,” the mill association source said.
No BSEB official could be contacted for comments.