Patna: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is going green, quite literally. After lighting up his official residence - 1 Anne Marg - with solar energy, costing Rs 4.5 crore, his native village Kalyanbigha in Nalanda district has now got low-cost solar pumpsets installed. The demo models, as they are supposed to be, have started functioning from his native village and will be replicated elsewhere in Bihar later on.
The new solar-powered drip irrigation system initiative is expected to come as a big help to farmers and especially Nitish Kumar, who remains on the firing line because of the severe power scarcity Bihar faces. Though he claims to have made strides in many sectors, when it comes to power, Team Nitish always gets into a defensive and explanatory mode.
Precisely the reason why organisations like Greenpeace are being roped in to find an alternative solution till Bihar's power scarcity is actually bridged. Promotion of solar power initiatives and other indigenous ways to generate alternative decentralised power, especially in rural areas has been taken up quite seriously. Be it the one installed in Nitish Kumar's ancestral village or Husk Power system of Champaran, which produces consumable electricity burning rice husk - essentially a waste product in the villages - and provides cheap electricity to over 100,000 people.
The state has three new huge power stations coming up, one near Nitish Kumar's ancestral village at Barh and two at Auranagbad. But considering the pace at which these projects are moving, it may require a decade more before they actually light up the first bulb. So what does the government sell to its electricity starved voters in the coming elections? It's these green solar initiatives which will now find place in state government's brochures and speeches.
Apart from coming as a saviour for team Nitish, it's also doing well for the farmers. Experts claim these solar pumps will help farmers realise their dream of growing at least three crops a year. This system is also believed to be simple, low cost, highly sustainable and non-polluting, and also saves 75% water, 70% labour and still yields 30% higher harvest.
In a state where agriculture sector has a critical role to play in the overall development and where 81% of the state population is largely dependent on agriculture, contributing 42% to the State Domestic product, the solar-powered pumping system will reduce farmer's dependency on the erratic power supply. The government needs to bring these decentralized renewable energy solutions under the ambit of government's agriculture roadmap to ensure the much0hyped 'rainbow' revolution in the state.