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100 per cent electrification: PM Narendra Modi’s praise boosts morale

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Energy World - Economic Times
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The energy department officials must be feeling elated over PM Narendra Modi’s praise on Sunday for 100% household electrification in the state before the nationwide target set for that. But there are still complaints of erratic power supply and no electricity connections in many households in some areas of the state. “I want to thank Nitishji for taking electricity to every household in Bihar,” PM said while addressing NDA’s Sankalp Rally here on Sunday. The statement was seen as a pat on the back of CM Nitish Kumar whom PM Modi had targeted in 2015 assembly election meetings by saying “Bijli aayi?”. JD(U) had contested the last assembly elections in alliance with RJD and Congress against BJP. As per the latest official figures, 1,39,73,122 houses in the state have been electrified under Saubhagya scheme.

PM Modi, while launching Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) on September 25, 2017 had set the target for completing the electrification process across the country by March 31 this year. Bihar government, which was already working on its parent scheme Mukhya Mantri Vidyut Sambandh Yojna or Har Ghar Bijli scheme since November 2016 had initially set the target of December last for providing meter-based electricity connections to all houses.
“We worked round-the-clock with utmost professionalism and dedication. As a result, the work done by Bihar government is being recognized across the country,” state energy minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav told TOI on Monday. He said setting up agriculture feeders, installation of smart prepaid meters and removing old electricity wires are the next targets. 

Principal secretary (energy) Pratyaya Amrit said priority districts were identified, keeping in mind the annual floods in monsoon and other such issues. “Strategies were made based on field visits. We had preponed the deadline for achieving the 100% electrification target to October 31 last as we knew the work might get affected due to festivals in November. Accordingly, we started 100% electrification in six to seven districts every month from June last,” he said.

At Darbhanga, locals claimed equipment and labourers required were carried on boats across Kamla Balan river. Khushi Lal Chaupal of Kandwara village under Gaura Bauram block said his house was electrified in September with meter no. 91,567. “My children now study under electric bulbs,” he said.

Shahzad Kalam of Koiribigha under Asthawan block in Nalanda district said power supply to his village and adjoining areas is satisfactorily good.

But Malahi villagers under Sursand block in Sitamarhi district said only 70% households had electric connections. Mostly those who had applied at the block camp got new electricity connections.

Kaushalya Devi of Kachor under Sonbarsa block in Sitamarhi district said she had no idea of any camp to get power connections.

Such complaints were also from Muzaffarpur. Locals claimed more than 100 villages out of the 1,811 selected under the scheme were yet to be provided electricity connections. More than 10 villages, including Turki and Raghopur in Meenpaur block of the district, are among them. 

Sonu Kumar of Turki said the electrification work is going at a snail’s pace. “We are still waiting for power supply to our houses,” he said.

Senior officials in energy department claimed only a few hundred rural households in the state were yet to be provided electricity connections. “Even though Bihar has been declared to have achieved 100% target under Saubhagya scheme, we are still taking feedbacks about houses still to be electrified. The 100% rural household electrification in the state was achieved based on the willing power consumers. Now, we are reaching out to the leftover houses, which had not shown interest in the camps set up under the scheme,” a senior energy department official said, wishing anonymity.