West Bengal to link river bank hamlets with solar power

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The state power department will use solar power to connect small hamlets on the banks of some rivers across the state. The decision was taken after a meeting of ground-level officials at the West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL) office on Saturday.

“The banks of the river are always prone to erosion, and setting up poles or grids for power supply is not feasible, as they might be damaged. Moreover, the department will have to bear a whooping cost for setting up connections through grid. So we have decided to use solar power in these areas. We have already identified such places where there are 30 to 60 slum houses like clusters,” state power minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said.

The minister said the infrastructure will be built with the help of local panchayats, which will maintain these solar connections. “In some small river islands, where power supply through grid will incur huge expenses, we will use solar,” he added.

Mr Chattopadhyay also pointed out that a section of private contractors involved in power supply are creating an artificial crisis of instruments required for uninterrupted supply, though “the department will ensure smooth supply”. “I have instructed the WBPDCL chairman to identify these contractors. We will take strong steps and will even go to the extent of cancelling the contract,” the minister said.

The power department has set a target of 180 new substations, including 42 with high voltage, to tackle the low voltage problem.

“The places facing low voltage problems have been identified. We will also set up some unmanned sub-stations,” Mr Chattopadhyay said. Representatives from two districts, Darjeeling and Birbhum, did not turn up for the meeting.

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