All 39,073 villages of Bihar were now electrified, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Wednesday. He added that every household in the state would have a free power connection by the end of the next calendar year.
The efforts in this regard were a part of Kumar’s seven resolves (“saat nischay”) of good governance. “We have come a long way since 2005 when we assumed power. Back then, small towns and villages had given up all hopes of getting power and even in the state capital, Patna, the electricity situation had left much to be desired,” Kumar said.
Kumar had first become the chief minister of Bihar when the NDA came to power in the state in 2005. He has been on the chair since then except for a few months, when he quit after the JD(U) debacle in the 2014 general election and anointed Jitan Ram Manjhi to the post.
Kumar has, on a number of occasions, said improving the electricity situation in power-starved Bihar was a topmost priority of his government.
He was addressing a function organised by the state power department, where all the 39,073 villages of the state were declared electrified and foundation stones were laid for power projects worth Rs 3,030.52 crore.
“Bringing electricity to all the villages was not an easy task. It was much more difficult than building roads. But we are happy to have achieved the target of electrifying all the villages by the end of 2017. We are confident of achieving the target of providing free power connections to all the households by December 31, 2018,” the JD(U) chief said.
Stating that his government’s resolve to bring power to every village and household was being emulated across the country, Kumar said, “It is a matter of pride for us that the Centre’s Saubhagya scheme is inspired by our har ghar bijli lagataar programme.”
He added that the turnaround in the power situation was achieved through a number of reforms, as a part of which “the state electricity board underwent a major revamp and a number of government-run power companies were set up”.
Kumar also said the state was purchasing power from the NTPC as well as private players, but added, “We cannot depend on thermal power fully since coal is a non-renewable, depletable resource.”
The government had decided to give a boost to solar power generation, he said, adding that two solar power units would be set up at Pirpainti in Bhagalpur district and Kajra in Lakhisarai.
“We have also made efforts to bring transparency in the process of giving a subsidy on electricity. Electricity bills mention the amount that is paid by the state by way of subsidy. This will result in a decrease in wasteful use of power.
“We have also been sensitive towards the complaints regarding inflated bills that many consumers come up with.
These complaints have been brought under the purview of the state public grievance redressal system. Under this system, two lakh cases have so far been resolved, of which about 15,000 were related to inflated power bills,” the chief minister said.