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Sobhandeb points finger at Centre for failing to make Katwa power project operational

Sobhandeb points finger at Centre for failing to make Katwa power project operational

Kolkata: State Power minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said during his Budget speech in the Assembly on Monday that the Centre has failed to make the Katwa power project operational despite the state government providing land for the same.

Chattopadhyay said it could not be made operational due to failure of the Centre's policy. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had taken initiative to arrange land for the 1,320 MW Katwa power project, but the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is yet to take any major step in this regard.

Even the officers who were posted there have been withdrawn, the minister added, who visited the spot last month to take a stock of the overall situation.

During his budget speech, the minister also complained about the Centre's apathy to provide clearance for various power projects. He said that the state government had written to the Centre to issue clearance for the various coalmines including those in Barjora I & II, but no steps have been taken in this regard yet.

The state government has also been awaiting clearance for mining in the Deocha Pachami coal block in Birbhum, which is one of the biggest reserves in Asia.

While responding to a query of an opposition MLA on the price of electricity, the minister said that since March 2017, there has been no price hike despite recommendation by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission to raise the price. The state government has been giving a subsidy of Rs 1,000 crore to compensate the loss.

The minister also said that under the 'Aloshree' project, a brainchild of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the department has set a target of setting up 1,000 solar plants on the rooftops of school buildings.

Giving a detailed account of the power scenario in the state, the minister said demand has gone up by 16 percent in the state. "In the last seven and half years, the number of industrial consumers has gone up by 39 percent. New electricity connections will be given to 1.83 lakh new domestic consumers, 16,663 new commercial consumers, 427 industries and 6,969 agricultural connections. There had been around 85 lakh consumers when the present government came to power. Now the number of consumers in the state has gone up to 1.91 crore," he said.

The Chief Minister instructed the Power department to ensure that all the interior villages have been brought under electricity coverage and rural electrification works have been completed. The department has also ensured quality power to various districts.

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