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Bengal lags far behind in rural electrification programme: Shinde

By Staff
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Kolkata, Feb 27: Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde yesterday (Feb 26, 2006) lambasted the West Bengal Government for its 'utter failure' in the progress of Rural Electrification programme under the 'Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Bidyutkaram Yojona' and called for immediate corrective measures.

Speaking to newspersons here on his return from Farakka (in Murshidabad district) after laying the foundation of a 500 MW (stage III) unit of Farakka Super Thermal Power Project, Mr Shinde regretted that since the beginning of the four years long nationwide rural electrification programme in April last year to ensure electtricity to all villages, only about 20 per cent of the state's 60,000 odd villages could be electrified so far, while most of the other states had gone way ahead in providing power to their respective villages.

"Since about 80 per cent of villages in West Bengal continue to remain without power, I have appointed as many as four implementing agencies namely the NTPC, Powergrid Corporation of India, NHPC and the DVC, instead only one in case of other states, to carry out the work on war footing," the Union Power Minister informed.

He, however, lauded the State Government's efforts in substantially reducing power theft and improving the generation capacity and announced allocation of an additonal fund of Rs 500 crores for the rural electrification programme in West Bengal.

Referring to the national perspective in power generation, Mr Shinde said by the end of the 11th plan period a total of 100,000 MW of power would be added to the national grid whose present capacity was to the tune of 123,000 MW.

Mr Shinde said though the Centre had a target of generating an additional 41,000 MW of power during the 10th plan period, the present trend showed that only 36,000 MW could be generated on time, primarily because of non-availability of gas from different sources.

"However all out efforts were being made to reach a least 92 per cent of the targetted generation during the plan period," he said.

Regarding NTPC's plan for the Farakka Super Thermal Power project which was allegedly facing the problem of having adequate supply of water for its proposed expansion plan, the Union Power Minister agreeing to the seriousness of the problem said the problem was being solved following consultations with the Water Resuorces Ministry.

"Since the area fell under Defecne minister Pranab Mukherjee's Parliamentary constituency, no stone will remain unturned to make the upgradation of the plant's future generation capacity viable," Mr Shinde pointed out.

UNI

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