With the Nalanda University revival becoming a reality, Bihar is trying to regain its status as an education hub in the international arena. The elite centre of learning which was operational 800 years back, was built in fifth century AD. Students from different parts of Asia came to study here.
Now, the Nalanda Mentor Group, headed by Nobel laureate Prof. Amartya Sen, has been set up to revive this erstwhile centre of international studies and the same body will act as its interim governing board. With this project, Bihar is now under the international spotlight and the world is keeping a tab on how the state, plagued with problems of under development, will accomplish this task.
As Bihar gears up for this massive project, the energy crisis in the state is becoming a major road block in its development. As per various estimates the state faces a deficit of more than 1000-1200 MW of electricity every day and various towns and cities face power cuts for hours. This in turn increases the dependence of the public on diesel run generators to fulfil their energy needs. Further there are huge transmission and distribution losses.
The policy makers now have to look at this seriously considering the international attention Bihar will get because of the Nalanda University revival project. The state, already infamous for lack of development and absence of basic infrastructure, needs to act swiftly and prove that the government is committed to take the state out of shambles, onto the path of development.
The state needs an alternative energy infrastructure which addresses the shortcomings of the present system. Decentralised renewable energy (DRE) emerges as a probable solution which is sustainable, resolves the issue of huge transmission and distribution losses and creates employment opportunities. This also inculcates the concept of self sufficiency resulting in reduced dependence on the government and allowing the state to focus on other governance related issues which are equally important.
The recently held assembly elections in Bihar saw people voting for development. Now the challenge before the new government is to fulfil this promise and meet the expectations. Energy is essential for development and with the public demanding the same, the policy makers have to address the issue. Bihar as a state is still not packed with the massive coal plants emitting tonnes of pollutants in the atmosphere. To meet the energy requirement of the state new power plants have to be set up. So why not sustainable, renewable energy?
It is a challenge and an opportunity for Bihar to revive its golden history and at the same time build a sustainable path to assure a dazzling future. The political leaders are privileged to have such a brilliant opportunity ahead of them to set an example to the world that sustainable development is possible. It would be interesting is to see how they utilise the same.