Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not extending assistance to boost electricity supply in the state and said it was deliberate to show the present government in a bad light.
During his nearly two-hour interaction with senior journalists over breakfast, Kumar said that the Bharat Heavy Electricity Limited (BHEL), a central government undertaking, has delayed the date of completion of work to restart Barauni power unit 14 times.
“Similarly, the Satluj Jalvidhyut Nigam, which is establishing a 1230 MW thermal power unit at Chausa in Buxar district, is yet to get central clearance on many counts to start work,” he said, in response to PM Narendra Modi’s criticism over poor availability of power in Bihar despite his (Kumar) promise not to seek vote in 2015 if he failed to provide electricity.
PM Modi had said during a rally at Gaya that Kumar was seeking votes for assembly polls despite his promise not to seek votes in 2015 if he failed to provide power. The PM had highlighted poor per capita availability of electricity of 150 units, which, he said, was far less than national average of 1,000 units and those in smaller states like Sikkim, Jharkhand and Punjab.
Kumar also brushed aside Narendra Modi’s criticism over poor electricity availability, saying that the state has perked up power supply through sustained efforts and all villages would be electrified within one year. “Concrete steps have been taken in the field of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity as a result of which power supply stands at 3100 MW as against availability of a meagre 70 MW in 2005. Within a year, government will link every village with the electricity network so that those willing to take power connection can avail it,” he said.
The CM said Bihar has taken up work to change 72,000 km of transmission line to cut power loss and 50% of the work has already been completed.
On harnessing hydel potential in the state, he said that unlike HP, Uttarakhand and Bhutan, Bihar did not have much scope for it. “The mini hydel power projects started in Kosi belt have not been much of a success,” he added.
Identifying tourism as a potential revenue earner, Kumar said steps were being taken to develop infrastructure to attract more tourists to the state and talked about building better road connectivity in the Buddhist circuit.
He accused the Centre of attempting to delay construction of the four-lane road from Patna to Gaya. “The Centre has stepped in after proper approval of the project by the state government with financial support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” he said.
On prevalence of open defecation in Bihar and low percentage of toilets in households, Kumar said Bihar was among the first to raise concern over poor sanitation condition.
“Socialist leaders Rammanohar Lohia had once told Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that he would stop opposing him (Nehru) if the latter installed toilet in every household,” Kumar, a disciple of Lohia, said.
The chief minister said one reason for poor sanitation, which has become a big issue today, was the huge population. “However, as part of the initiative to improve sanitation, the state government has increased its share for building toilets to Rs 8,000 per toilet as against Rs 1,333 earlier apart from Rs 4,000 per toilet given by the Centre. Now, with Centre’s Rs 4,000 and state’s share of Rs 8,000, a good toilet could be built and a positive change made visible in this direction,” he said.
In addition to this, the state government has made arrangements for connecting toilets of each household with the main septic line at its own cost. “Besides, the urban local bodies have been provided Rs 1,200 per household for lifting garbage and filth,” he said.
On poor investment in manufacturing sector, Kumar said about Rs 7,500 crore investments had come to Bihar, a majority of which is in food processing sector. He, however, listed lack of infrastructure support as a cause of low investment and said earlier due to low availability of rice mills, even paddy used to go to mills of Uttar Pradesh for processing.
He identified tremendous potential of harnessing largescale production of maize in Bihar and stressed the need for branding of products, giving example of Sudha Dairy in this regard.
Identifying land related conflict as a major problem, the chief minister said Bihar government has made fresh survey and settlement for better upkeep of land records.