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Solar power, an agent of change

A recent addition in the dowry list in country's power deprived regions of Bihar and eastern UP is the solar electricity generating system.

delhi Updated: Mar 23, 2011 01:17 IST
Chetan Chauhan

A recent addition in the dowry list in country's power deprived regions of Bihar and eastern UP is the solar electricity generating system. It can generate enough power to run a television set, couple of fans and a water pump, the other likely items on the dowry list.

Getting appliances without power is of no use. So there is a growing demand for solar power system.

"There is a sudden spurt in demand of solar photovoltaic systems in rural India as they have now become part of the dowry gift list," said a chief executive officer of a private solar company, who was not willing to be quoted on this aspect of the business.

In the last two years, the demand for solar panels in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar has doubled from 5,000 units a year primarily as it is one of the items being demanded as dowry.

A unit, which has three solar photovoltaic panels, cables and a battery, costs about R40,000 in the retail market. "Such is the demand that most manufacturers are not able to meet the demand," he said.

Most of these areas fall in the 45 % rural habitats without regular power supply but with basic entertainment modes such as television sets or mobile phones. To run them, villagers are finding solar an invaluable option.

In Sunderbans

Over 50 households in one of the world’s finest eco-systems, Sunderbans, also known for its tigers, have joined hands to install and maintain a solar power electricity system. The system became operational on March 9 this year.

"A cooperative society runs, manages it and even collects monthly bills from villagers," said A Anurag Danda, head of Sundarbans Programme & Climate Adaptation with NGO World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Along with it, WWF has also launched battery-operated rickshaws for local commuters.

Such small community-based solar electricity systems have been successful in remote areas of Uttarakhand, NorthEast and poor regions of Bundelkhand. "For the first time since Independence these people have experienced the power of electricity," said an official of NGO Development Alternatives, which installed the system in MP.

Other benefits

A UNICEF study shows regular power supply is an incentive for children to study. If they complete study till matriculation, the family income almost doubles. India's solar story

These benefits are not behind the unique dowry demand. But, watching television is. A survey by a solar firm showed that majority wanted power at home to watch a movie or a cricket match. And, some just wanted it to run pumps for irrigation.