Solar power brightens hamlet

Veloshi, a tribal ­hamlet on the lap of the ­Sahyadri mountains in ­Maharashtra’s Thane district, now sports a bright, resplendent look at night, thanks to solar street lamps and home bulbs installed by RC ­Mumbai Bandra Kurla ­Complex, D 3141, in ­partnership with The Green I ­Initiative Foundation which is into ushering in alternative energy for rural households.

For 375 villagers staying in 75 mud houses, living in darkness has been a constant nightmare and many of the elders have not ­experienced any form of ­electricity at all. While agriculture is their main ­occupation, a 10-member team of Rotarians found out in August 2016, the ­villagers were barely able to ­sustain themselves as poverty was rampant. “After ­interacting with them, we ­realised the first priority was lighting the hamlet with durable, easy-to-maintain power supply and we decided on solar PV systems,” recalls Sachin Shigwan, the club’s past president and Avenue Chair, Renewable Energy.

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Prakash Rane, a club ­member and CEO of ABM Knowledgeware, gave Rs 9.5 lakh from his CSR funds for installing and commissioning the 3 kWp (kilowatt peak) system that delivered three solar bulbs to each household and 20 street lamps in the village. Twelve solar panels with the necessary accessories were set up on three rooftops. “We chose houses of responsible people like village ­headman for installing the rooftop panels,” says Shigwan.

The battery-enabled solar bulbs emit light from 7 pm to midnight, while street lamps glow from 6 pm to 6 am. During monsoon, the home bulbs work three hours a day. The street lamps have auto sensors with in-built battery as a precaution. The ­installation and monitoring of the PV system are taken care of by The Green I Initiative.

Now the villagers venture out freely in the evening without fear, says Kamal Raghunath Shivari, ­Sarpanch, Veloshi Gram Panchayat. “Use of kerosene lamps has reduced drastically, lowering the rate of fire accidents and eye problems.” A corpus has been established with a monthly contribution of Rs 50 from each household for the maintenance of the PV system.

Deepak Ladku Deshmukh, ­Principal of the village school, Chaitanya Vidyalaya, is happy that the project has brought a ­“continuous source of light which will help my students to study for more hours in the evening”.

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