You in India's top cities may envy around one-fifth of total villages in 78 naxal affected districts set to get around the clock tap water supply, courtsey solar energy.
Three Central government ministries --- New and Renewable Energy, Drinking Water and Sanitation and Finance --- have come together to provide 24 into 7 clean drinking water to 10,000 villages in the Naxal affected districts under the Integrated Action Plan of the Central government.
A solar energy based drinking water supply system has already changed lives of villagers in naxal affected Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra where solar energy based dual pump piped water supply system has been installed.
A one horse power (HP) solar energy based submersible pump is installed in existing high yielding bore well and the pumped water is stored in 5000 litre water tanks. The water from these tanks is supplied to about 250 homes in a village.
And, the cost of the project for a village is low (about Rs. five lakh) because the non-polluting solar system is not a battery --- high cost -- operated. The water pumped during the day gets stored in the tanks for supply around the clock.
Despite the government spending crore of rupees in bridging the development deficit in the Naxal affected areas, clean drinking water still remains a major concern. In over 90% of villages in 120 Naxal influence districts, women have to walk half a kilometer a day or more to fetch drinking water. And, in summer months the travel increases as many ground sources of water turn dry.
The success of the project in Gadchiroli, which has also resulted in improvement of socio-economic condition of the villagers, has shown the government as possible way-out of ensuring some drinking water to these villages.
The thought has enabled the drinking water ministry to replicate project in a tleast 10,000 villages at a cost of about Rs. 500 crore.
The villages being chosen are the ones with population between 150-250 as the solar system enables is about to pump water for maximum of 250 people in a day. Also these villages are most remote in the 78 naxal districts spread across nine states.
To make the effort collaborative, three ministries are set to join hands.
The ministry of new and renewable energy would be providing a subsidy at a rate of Rs. 70 per watt to install solar water pumping system. The Finance Ministry's Clean Energy Development Fund could pay for some of the cost (Rs 229 crore) and rest would be borne by the drinking water ministry.
"Once the national clean energy fund clears the project we will seek Cabinet approval for its implementation," a senior government official said.
The government believes that all these villages can get regular water supply system within 18 months of approval as on site project implementation is possible and state governments have expertise to implement the project. For five years, the villagers can run and maintain the hassle free system.
That will make it India's biggest solar energy driven water project.