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Centre bins Bihar's power charge

- Stop whining, do work on time and reduce losses to get more funds: Piyush Goyal

Piyush Goyal at the news meet in New Delhi on Friday. Picture by Prem Singh

A Union minister on Friday brushed aside Bihar's complaint that the Centre was putting additional financial burden on the states by changing the fund-sharing pattern of the rural electrification scheme.

Piyush Goyal, Union minister of state for power, coal, new and renewable energy and mines, said states too had the responsibility of implementing the scheme.

He was responding to a question regarding Bihar's claim that the Narendra Modi government had put additional financial burden on states by changing the fund-sharing formula between the Centre and the states for the rural electrification programme.

The Bihar government has been pointing out that in the earlier version of the rural electrification programme, the fund-sharing formula between the Centre and the state was 90:10 whereas under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana that ratio has been changed to 60:40.

Goyal interacted with journalists through video-conferencing, sharing the achievements notched up in the Yojana, which aims to electrify all of India's villages by May 2018.

Out of the 18,452 un-electrified villages in the country, the Union power ministry has been able to provide power to 13,519 villages so far, while 944 villages have been found to be uninhabited - according to the latest official figures.

Of the 39,073 revenue villages in Bihar, over 2,000 did not have electricity on April 1, 2015. Now, that number has been brought down to less than 600.

Reacting to Goyal's comment, Bihar energy minister Bijendra Yadav said the state was more than willing to honour its responsibility but the fact remained that the Centre had reduced its share in the rural electrification work meant to benefit the poor.

The Union minister also referred to a provision of the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana guidelines where the states were entitled to additional 15 per cent of the central share by completing the project on time and reduction in aggregate transmission and commercial losses.

"Instead of complaining about the share issue, Bihar should strive for meeting the norms for getting more as central share," he said.

Responding to another Bihar-specific query about the funds released under the power sector from the special package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, Goyal said the power sector fund was meant for various works and the Centre had given the state about Rs 6,000 crore for rural electrification.

Under the Rs 1.25 lakh crore special package that Modi announced in 2015, Bihar was supposed to get Rs 1,60,130 crore for the electricity sector which was meant for Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, integrated power development schemes for towns and cities, and setting up a 1,300MW power plant in Buxar.

Goyal said the Centre had so far provided Rs 5,856 crore to the state under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and Nalanda district - which won an award from the Prime Minister for excellence in implementing the Yojana - alone had got Rs 162 crore.

Bijendra, however, claimed that the Centre had not provided a single paisa to Bihar under the PM's special package.

Goyal also inaugurated a "dashboard" on rural electrification which will provide all details about advancements being made in rural electrification work. The dashboard can be viewed by visiting the website www.garv.gov.in.

The Union minister said even though the Prime Minister had set 2022 as the deadline for providing electricity to all households, his ministry was trying to achieve the goal well before that.

Senior officials, including Union power secretary P.K. Pujari, accompanied the minister during the media interaction.


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