Two-third population of Bihar lack electricity: World Bank

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Patna, Feb 27: Claiming that two-third of Bihar population is yet to get access to electricity, a World Bank study report has asked the state government to augment generation capacity and ramp up investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure to ensure affordable power to the consumers.

"Two-third of Bihar population does not have access to electricity for which the state government must augment generation capacity and ramp up investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure to provide affordable and reliable power to the consumers," World Bank's Economic Advisor Sheoli Pargal said.

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Lack of access to power for a large segment of its population as well as industry coupled with an inefficient, loos-making distribution infrastructure severely constrains economic development and growth, she said.

Stating that Bihar has the lowest per capita electricity consumption at 144 KW against national average of 917 KW, Pargal, author of the World Bank report on power scenario in India, noted that Bihar also fared among the worst states in terms of peak deficit of power at 30 per cent.

Given abysmal picture, Bihar needed drastic steps to revitalise power sector by improving performance of distribution utilities with an added emphasis on financial discipline in distribution of power in the back drop of ever accumulating Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&T) losses which was among the highest in the country.

The (AT&T) losses in power distribution in Bihar were among the highest in the country at 50 per cent in 2013 while the accumulated losses of the sector stood at Rs 85 billion in 2012, she said, adding, the transmission losses at four per cent in the financial year 2012-13 were also high considering the all-India average at around 2.4 per cent. 

Noting that structural issues like low demand in rural areas, low revenue and lack of incentives for distribution companies were primary factors behind electricity not reaching to consumers, the World Bank Advisor counselled the state government to address commercial viability of rural service delivery to attract investment.

Having pointed out anomalies in power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure in Bihar, Pargal was quick to note that all was not lost for growth of power sector in Bihar as the state government had taken encouraging steps like institutional reforms in this sector. A number of key initiatives like unbundling the Bihar State Electricity Board, setting up of Bihar Electricity Regulatory Commission and awarding distribution franchisees for Muzaffarpur, Gaya and Bhagalpur, etc, have been taken to tone up distribution system, the World Bank official said.

She said that the state government has also joined hands with the central transmission utility for expanding transmission infrastructure to ensure electricity supply to consumers in rural areas. In addition to infrastructure development for efficient delivery of power to the consumers, the state government also needed to improve quality and adequacy of power for which there must be a robust energy audit and accounting mechanism in place, Pargal said.

The state should also build organisational capacity to execute and maintain new capital investment in power sector, she said. Bihar can improve operational and financial efficiency in distribution through a multi-pronged approach like using information technology for transparent energy audits across the value of the chain, adopting innovations to reduce AT&T loss being used by private sector entities, ring fencing supply to the agriculture sector with a transparently determined and administered subsidy in order to extend reliance power in rural areas, she said.

The World Bank official said that Bihar should also take cue from revenue maximising models adopted by some states like Gujarat and West Bengal to maximise revenue from power supply in urban areas. 

PTI

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