"Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise."
-Victor HugoAlbeit said in an entirely different context, this quote just became a way of life to the villagers who reside in Baripada, on the 2nd of this month. Located about 25 km away from Bubaneshwar, this tiny hamlet with a population of only 350 people has achieved something praiseworthy by becoming the first 100 per cent solar-powered tribal village in Odisha.
The Rs 7-lakh project was co-funded by ECCO Electronics, a solar products manufacturer, and Jakson Group, a diversified power solutions provider. “We requested companies such as Nalco, ECCO Solar and Jackson Solar to help us with the solar project for the village. This model can be replicated all over Odisha to provide power to its nearly 3,900 villages,” senior IPS officer Joydeep Nayak, the driving force behind this initiative, told The Times of India.
Under this project, individual solar units with two solar home-lighting systems have been installed for each of the 61 households in the village. These lighting systems have been provided with the facility of charging mobile phones and other devices. A central one-kilowatt unit that can be used to power about eight street lamps along with a LED television set as well as a set-top box have also been provided to the villagers. The unit can additionally operate a one horsepower irrigation pump.
The central solar unit has eight panels that can be folded quickly in case of cyclones and high-speed winds that are common occurrences in the state. But what makes the project stand out is the fact that they have taken the group in-charge of the project that attended to the complaints made by consumers with regards to the distribution and supply of energy.
In order to ensure that problems such as exposed cables being tapped by villagers, or power shortage due to overload doesn't occur, each household has been provided with individual units. As such, this is one of the first projects of its kind that is not only cost-efficient but also community-owned. "The entire village has been involved in the planning and execution. Village mukhia, Narayan Hisa along with a local ITI diploma holder, Epil Kumar Singh, are responsible for the maintenance," says ECCO CEO Vivek Bihani. "The only maintenance required is regular cleaning of the solar panels and, in case of the central unit, ensuring that the water levels in the batteries are at the optimum mark. It is actually zero-maintenance."
Kudos to this village for not only take proactive measures to help the inhabitants but for also being one of the pioneers in promoting this clean source of energy.
Scroll on to see pictures from this East Indian utopia...
Words: Krupa Joseph