After roads, Bihar`s power sector a Nitish priority

Nitish Kumar wants to make a difference in the power sector during his second term that ends in 2015.

Patna: After fulfilling the dreams of good roads in Bihar in his first term as chief minister, Nitish Kumar wants to make a difference in the power sector during his second term that ends in 2015.

"After roads, the power sector is a priority of Nitish Kumar for the development of Bihar," an official in chief minister`s office said.

Nitish Kumar told the top officials of the state energy department at a review meeting Thursday to complete the ongoing projects in time and improve transmission system to minimise loss.

"The chief minister has directed the officials to replace defunct 72,000 km electric transmission wires in the state in a phase-wise manner to check distribution loss and ensure to connect houses," an official said.

The state energy secretary Ravi Kant said the department has decided to replace 25,000 km of 72,000 defunct wires by the end of March 2011.

Bihar State Electricity Board chairman PK Rai admitted that defunct wires were causing the heavy distribution loss. "It was estimated that defunct wires are causing a transmission and distribution loss of 38 percent."

In view of the shortage of power in the state, Nitish Kumar also asked the top officials to review the progress of procuring power from unconventional sources of energy.

Bihar is to set up three new thermal power plants to generate 3,960 MW of energy, an official said.

The plants, of 1,320 MW each, will be set up at Kajra in Lakhisarai, Piparpainti in Bhagalpur and Chusa in Buxar districts.

While the state has a daily requirement of 2,000 MW, it produces only 150-200 MW of power. The central government supplies around 1,000-1,200 MW.

During the election campaign for the October-November state assembly polls, Nitish Kumar had promised to light up every village of the power-starved state by 2015.

"All three power plants will be facilitated through the Bihar Power Infrastructure Company," the official said.

Millions in Bihar are still living in the lantern age as electricity has become a luxury for people in most parts. Capital Patna is an exception of sorts, but most small towns and district headquarters are hit badly due to the power shortage.