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Solar energy yet to take off in Bihar

According to reports, power-starved Bihar is yet to take off in solar energy. Although, of late, the Bihar government is serious about solar energy as an alternative source of energy. Less than a percent of the total population has an access to solar power.

During the last one and a half decades over 6,000 families could avail the facility of Solar Home Light System. The cost of each system is around Rs 10,000 and the government gives a subsidy of 50 percent to the BPL families.

According to official sources, there are only 1,270 functional solar streets lights in the state. Although the Centre is giving 100 percent subsidy, only seven districts of Bihar, including East and West Champaran, Madhubani, Kishanganj and Araria, have solar street lights. But since 2002, only 310 streets are lighted with solar street lights in these districts.

The situation in the remaining districts are even worse. There are only 13 solar streets lights in Nawada, Patna has 27, Bhojpur 14, Samastipur 15, Vaishali 11, Kaimur 34, Jamui 14, Muzaffarpur 18, Gaya 84 and Nalanda 32. The cost of each 74 watt solar street light is Rs 28,240 which includes the maintenance cost for five years.

In the last 17 years, the Bihar Renewable Energy Development Agency (BREDA) has distributed only around 59,000 solar lanterns in the state. The cost of each lantern of 10 watt is Rs 3,500, but as the government gives subsidy it is available for Rs 2,000 for the people living below the poverty line, which is still too costly for a BPL family.

Besides, BREDA also has a Bihar Solar Revolution Irrigation Project for farmers, under which only a handful of 700 solar pump, each of 1800 watt, with capacity of two HP, is been installed in 10 districts of the state.

These 10 districts are East Champaran, West Champaran, Gopalganj, Samastipur, Araria, Darbhanga, Sitamarih, Madhubani, Supaul and Purnia.

The total cost of each pump is Rs 3.15 lakh, of which 50 percent is given by the Centre, 40 percent by the state and remaining 10 percent is to be paid by the beneficiary.

BREDA has also installed solar water heaters of as much as 7500 litres capacity in the last four years in Gaya, Patna and Chhapra.

BREDA deputy director Raj Mohan Jha admitted that the state has made negligible growth in the field of solar energy in the last three decades.

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