Bihar government, NTPC trade charges on electricity problem

Bihar government, NTPC trade charges on electricity problem
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First Published: Mon, May 04 2009. 12 48 AM IST
Updated: Mon, May 04 2009. 12 48 AM IST
Patna: Facing a severe electricity shortage, Bihar has blamed NTPC Ltd for the crisis, saying that the Union government-owned utility has delayed work on power projects in the state.
Although the government led by Janata Dal (United) party has hastened building of roads and bridges, it has fared poorly in electricity generation.
“While NTPC has signed agreements with us for setting up (power) projects, they are yet to go forward with the work,” Sushil Kumar Modi, deputy chief minister of Bihar, said.
The country’s largest power generation utility has delayed projects totalling 2,590MW, he added.
Bihar has a power generation capacity of 584MW compared with a demand of around 1,900MW. The deficit is made up by accessing the central pool quota of 1,200MW, of which the supply is around 700MW. As a result, frequent and prolonged power outages are common across the state.
While NTPC operates two plants in Bihar, they are not owned by the state government and their output can only be accessed indirectly from the central pool.
On its part, NTPC blames the state government for the delays. “There are issues. No land has been given to us for the new project sites. We have been trying our best. There are administrative issues which need to be resolved by the state government,” said a NTPC executive who didn’t want to identified.
“We now plan to take up this issue with the Union power ministry, which in turn will ask the state government to expedite the work,” the executive added.
NTPC and the Bihar State Electricity Board, or BSEB, are developing an equal joint venture project at Nabinagar in Aurangabad district that would have an installed capacity of 1,980MW. The company has also formed a subsidiary, Kanti Bijlee Utpadan Nigam Ltd, to revive and maintain a 220MW project in Muzaffarpur. The company will also set up an additional capacity of 390MW at the site.
“BSEB is in a big mess with more than 51% power cut in Bihar,” T. Sankaralingam, former chairman and managing director, NTPC, had said earlier.
In an attempt to resolve the problem, Nitish Kumar, immediately after he became chief minister in November 2005, had promised to explore all options, including privatization, to revive the power sector in Bihar. He hasn’ found success yet.
According to the series titled Indian States at a Glance, edited by Laveesh Bhandari and Sumita Kale of New Delhi-based economics research firm Indicus Analytics Pvt. Ltd, “the per capita consumption of electricity is only 86 kilowatt hour (kWh) (in Bihar) as against 411kWh at the national level.”
“We are dependent on generators and 75% of our production is done from the power supplied by them,” said Meraj Babloo, owner of AM Fabrics which manufactures hand-woven silk apparel.
“This is a huge problem and the main reason why industries are not being set up in the state,” Babloo added.
Mint had reported on 25 February that India’s ambitious programme to provide electricity to the rural poor—the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana—is facing trouble in states such as Bihar due to fear of Maoist violence.
utpal.b@livemint.com
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First Published: Mon, May 04 2009. 12 48 AM IST