Political Parties Promise Solar Lights and Smart Villages in Bihar Elections

The dance of democracy has begun in Bihar, where state assembly elections started on October 28, 2020. The results will be declared on November 10, 2020.

With the battle lines drawn and polls for the first phase underway, Mercom looked at the election manifestos of the three major parties that are eyeing a majority vote share and the promises they made to citizens for sustainable development.

Bihar is one of India’s least developed states where the scope for renewable energy development is high.

So far, the state has installed just 111.2 MW of utility-scale solar projects, with only 0.5 MW projects in the pipeline. According to Mercom’s India Solar Tracker, tenders for solar power projects in the state to the tune of 637 MW have already been issued.

The ruling Janata Dal-United (JDU), in its manifesto, has mentioned that Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) and polytechnic institutes would train the youth in new and upcoming technologies, including renewable energy sources such as solar power.

The manifesto further adds that mega skill centers would be launched across all districts where youths who could not enroll in ITIs and polytechnic institutes would get training in solar panel mechanics.

JDU said in its manifesto that it would install solar street lamps in all villages and carry out regular inspections for the lights under the Smart Village program.

Meanwhile, in its manifesto, JDU’s coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also promised solar street lamps as a part of its ‘Village Development Plan’ in Bihar.

On the other hand, the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has promised to develop ‘smart villages.’

Bihar has floated a few solar and electric mobility tenders for its Bihar Sharif smart city in the recent past. There hasn’t been a lot of activity in the state in the smart city segment as well.

Interestingly, last month the Union Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy, R.K. Singh, announced that the Ministry of Power had invested ₹110 billion (~$ 1.5 billion) for electrification in Bihar in the past 3-4 years.

The presence of sustainable technologies in these manifestos does not in itself guarantee development on the ground. However, the fact that they are being included in the election platform shows progress and the growing importance of renewables in India.