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Sagar Island plugs into state grid

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By DEBASISH CHATTOPADHYAY ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAYANTA BASU
  • Published 24.04.12
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Gupta at Sagar Island on Monday. Telegraph picture

Sagar Island (South 24-Parganas), April 23: A World Bank-funded project today brought 24-hour power to the Sunderbans island where the Ganga Sagar fair is held each winter, after decades of erratic supplies from fume-spewing diesel generators.

Over 200 families at Sagar Island who so far had been getting electricity six hours daily joined the network of the state-owned power company that had to lay cables across a river several kilometres wide. The grid power will cost 70 per cent less.

Power minister Manish Gupta inaugurated the project and promised more. “We hope to cover 43,000 households within the next two years.”

Sources in the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL) said diesel-generated electricity cost around Rs 13 per unit. “But the cost of grid power will be Rs 4 per unit and it will come without the pollution,” an official said.

Gupta had opened a similar project last week when the WBSEDCL connected an island in Gosaba, also in the Sunderbans, that had so far been fed power from non-conventional sources of energy such as coal gas.

“With grid electricity, farmers can operate pumps for irrigation at cheaper rates. Small-scale industry like food-processing units can be set up as the place produces a lot of chillies and watermelon. Tourism will also develop,” said Sunderbans development minister Shyamal Mondal.

Union minister and local MP C. M. Jatua and other district Trinamul leaders were also present, as were World Bank officials.

But the project appeared to have brought more than just power — it brought rivals on stage together.

Former CPM MLA Prabhanjan Mondal shared the dais with Trinamul leaders. “In Sagar Island we always maintain a cordial atmosphere. In future also, we will invite them (CPM leaders),” local Trinamul MLA Bankim Hazra said. He was asked about ministerial colleague Jyotipriya Mullick’s advice not to mix with CPM leaders and workers.