At Niti Aayog meet, Nitish pitches for 'one nation, one electricity rate'

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Patna, Feb 20 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday sought a policy of 'one nation, one rate' of electricity, saying that it will benefit states like Bihar which gets power at a higher rate compared to several others.

Addressing the sixth governing council meeting of the Niti Aayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kumar said that Bihar used to draw only 700 MW of power in 2005 but the scenario has changed in the past 15 years and the state drew 5,932 MW in June 2020.

Nitish Kumar-led NDA government came to power in the state in November 2005 for the first time.

On the three farm laws enacted by the Centre against which many agriculturalists have been agitating near Delhi for the past few months, Kumar said that the laws are pro-farmer.

'The rate of electricity which is supplied by the central government's power plants differ from state to state.

There should be a uniform policy - one nation, one rate,' the chief minister said.

Bihar gets electricity at a higher rate and the state government is forced to provide more grant to power distribution companies so that people get electricity at an economical rate, he said.

'It will be good if a single rate policy is adopted for the entire nation,' an official release quoted the chief minister as saying in the Niti Aayog meeting.

Taking part at the meeting via video-conference from the chief minister's official residence, he also appreciated the central government for launching a scheme for installing pre-paid meter, the work on which is currently underway in the state.

Kumar said that at Niti Aayog meetings, he has raised various issues relating to the state's interests including that of according special status category to Bihar.

On the issue of the farm laws, Kumar said, 'The three farm laws brought by the Centre are in the interests of farmers.' The Bihar government has abolished the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act in 2006 as people faced a lot of problems in selling their produce prior to that, Kumar said.

There used to be no procurement in Bihar and it was his government which started the process after coming to power in 2005, he said.

The state procured 20 lakh metric tonne of paddy last year and it is 32.89 lakh metric tonne this year till Friday, the chief minister said.

Expressing concern over the low credit deposit (CD) ratio of Bihar, he said that it is only 36.1 per cent in Bihar against the national average of 76.5 per cent, while the ratio is even 100 per cent in some states.

The CD ratio is the ratio of a bank's total loans and total deposits.

Kumar said that there should be a mechanism so that banks give loans to people of a state from the deposits made by its people.

'People deposited Rs 3.75 lakh crore in Bihar but banks extended loans up to Rs 1.35 lakh crore. The money deposited by Bihar goes to developed states,' he asserted.

The CM praised the central government for its decision to allow production of ethanol from sugarcane juice which would lessen the dependency on petrol and diesel.

He said that in 2007, a proposal to set up a Rs 21,000 crore ethanol production unit in Bihar was shelved as the central government did not give permission.

'But now, it is good that ethanol production is starting,' he said.

Kumar also demanded that facilities of a port in Odisha be made available to Bihar, a landlocked state, to facilitate smooth transportation of goods.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Bihar has declined significantly but the state government is alert and has been carrying out tests, he said.

Kumar said that the state government will fully cooperate with the Centre in the vaccination drive. PTI AR NN NN