The Telegraph
Tuesday , May 29 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Giriraj banks on solar cooker for tasty food at less

- Minister fears LPG price hike, asks cabinet colleague to explore alternative energy avenue

If the Centre decides to withdraw subsidy on fuel hearing Jairam Ramesh’s statement the other day, state animal and fish resources minister Giriraj Singh would not be affected. He has started using solar cookers to prepare meals at home.

On May 24, Ramesh said subsidy on LPG (liquid petroleum gas) , kerosene and diesel should be provided only to low- and middle-income families. Singh, fearing a rise in cooking gas price, has already started using solar cookers. He has also urged the state energy minister, Vijendra Prasad Yadav, to come up with a plan to reduce the dependence of the government buildings on traditional sources of power. Solar energy, the minister suggested, would be a suitable alternative.

Singh said: “As you know, we have acute shortage of power in Bihar. I fear the price of LPG will rise soon. As I am a minister, a number of party workers come to my house all the time, and I offer them something to eat. To reduce expenses on fuel, I have started to use a solar cooker.”

The minister has purchased three solar cookers for Rs 34,000 from Gujarat. Two of these have been installed on the terrace of his house at 15 Kautilya Marg and one in the garden.

He has started liking the taste of the food cooked in the new equipment. “The taste of food prepared in solar cookers is different from the meals cooked on LPG gas ovens. It just takes 45 minutes to prepare dishes like mixed vegetables or kicchidi. I also cook non-vegetarian dishes like chicken and mutton in it,” Singh said.

The minister’s quirky habits are well-known to Patna residents. At his official residence, Singh rears goats, rabbits and emu as a hobby. To feed the members of his menagerie, he has brought special kind of grass from Karnataka — mulatto and napier. The Telegraph had reported in its September 15, 2011, edition, how Singh was worried about shifting his birds and beast from his erstwhile home, the sprawling bungalow on 2 Circular Road earmarked for Legislative Council chairperson, to his present residence. He was anxious that his smaller, new house would not be able to accommodate all the animals.

“I keep on doing something with a difference so that people can learn and adopt these practices in their day-to-day life. I have urged the energy minister to come up with a plan to reduce dependence of government buildings on power supply from traditional sources and shift to solar energy,” Singh said.

Yadav, Singh claimed, said once solar energy system was set up at the chief minister’s residence, the energy department would plan on promoting the alternative source of power in other Bihar government buildings. On March 27, 2012, the state cabinet had approved Rs 4.5 crore for installing an independent lighting system at 1 Aney Marg to end its dependence on power supply from Bihar State Electricity Board.