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US firm to invest $240mn to light up Bihar's Buddhist sites

Arun Kumar   |  Washington

06-May-2013

A power venture formed by Indian and North American energy professionals plans to create a role model for the world by lighting up famed Buddhist sites in Bihar with a $240 million (Rs. 13 billion) solar energy project as part of a corporate social responsibility initiative.

Founded in 2011, FJS Energy LLC, USA, aims to work around the Buddhist Circuits starting with Rajgir-Nalanda and Bodhgaya in the first phase and then taking up Vaishali and other places.

"We would like to start the process of implementation at the earliest," Christopher Sargunam, Chief Operating Officer of the company with offices in Delhi, New Jersey and Ontario, Canada, told IANS in an e-mail.

The company's ultimate aim is to create a portfolio of 200 MW at a cost of around Rs. 13 billion ($240 million), but the first phase would focus on 20 to 25 MW which would envisage an investment of upwards of Rs. 1.6 billion ($30 million), he said.

FJS Energy thought of lighting up the Buddhist Circuit as a "not-for-profit" Corporate Social Responsibility initiative with a "larger objective" as it is one of the world key religious tourism destinations that has of late witnessed a sharp rise in the domestic and foreign tourist arrivals.

While the Bihar government "is pursuing development of road and other key infrastructure in a planned manner, it is equally important to have clean and continuous supply of power to these circuits and create a role model for the world," Sargunam said.

While Bihar is currently the company's key focus in the clean energy space, it would eventually look at other opportunities on a case by case basis.

Quite optimistic about the Indian market place "we are also currently structuring long term coal supply contracts (of up to 25 years), which of-course is a 'for-profit' initiative," Sargunam said.

With its key strength lying in partnerships globally and more particularly in the US for securing coal with customised/blended specs from a long term perspective, FJS aims to secure 5 percent market share in the coal imports business in India, he said

FJS Energy, which has secured fuel reserves in different parts of the world through acquisitions, joint ventures and option agreements, provides innovative energy solutions in thermal and clean energy space, Sargunam said. - IANS