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Energy sector gropes in dark

Darkness defines the power sector even after Nitish Kumar’s seven-year tenure.

One of Nitish’s main agendas after he took the reins as the chief minister in 2005 was to illuminate every household and industrial unit. Seven years on, the situation has worsened.

The power sector has not benefited from Nitish’s susashan (good governance). Besides, protests against the poor power scenario in far-flung areas of the state, figures available with Central Electricity Authority portray the sorry state of affairs.

Sample this: In 2005, the state was generating around 50MW-100MW out of its total installed generation capacity of 480MW, including 40MW of hydel generation. The state had four units of 110MW — two each at Barauni and Kanti thermal power station. But they have stopped generating because of ongoing renovation and modernisation work. Moreover, the state has not been able to add a single megawatt.

Even the per capita power consumption has not seen much improvement, if compared to the national average. The state’s per capita power consumption was 70 units compared to the national average of 612 units in March 2005. In 2012, the state’s per capita power consumption stands at 122 units against the national average of 778.

Not a single power project, either in public or private sector, has materialised, a major reason behind which the power consumption has remained one of the lowest in the country. “The Nitish government has not been able to add a single megawatt in its seven years of rule. Accessible and cheaper power, which is considered as an engine of growth, plays the role of catalyst for industrialisation,” Satyajit Kumar, former chairperson, Confederation of Indian Industries , Bihar, said.

He explained that unless power firms get easy land and Power Purchase Agreement signed with the state government and prospective buyers, they are not going to be successful. He was, however, quick to add that the state government had started taking the power issue seriously.