Residents of Goela village in Mewat district, who face power outages spanning 10-16 hours a day, feared a dark Diwali, at a time when the cities would be dazzling with lights and sparks of crackers.
Some relief, however, came on the eve of the festival of lights as the Institute of Rural Research and Development (IRRAD) launched a solar charging station in the village and gave solar lanterns to around 50 households each in Goela and three adjoining villages.
The Gurgaon-based NGO, owing allegiance to the SM Sehgal Foundation, held a ‘Solar Diwali’ in collaboration with The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) as part of the ‘Lighting a Billion Lives’ project.
The station will charge 50 lanterns during the day. Each recharge will cost R3-4 while a fully charged lantern will run for 4-6 hours. TERI has set up a technology research centre in four villages to monitor the functioning of the stations and repair faults in the lanterns.
“This alternative power source will not only be a respite from evening blackouts but will provide a business opportunity to villagers,” said Jane Schukoske, CEO, IRRAD.
Mewat’s deputy commissioner Balraj Mor said the district administration will provide all support to scale up the initiative. Representatives of the Gurgaon Grameen Bank, present on the occasion, pledged to provide easy loans to villagers for buying solar lanterns.
Village panchayat members said they will take the project further if it turned out to be feasible. Salman Ali of the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs fame, who hails from Mewat, was also felicitated on the occasion.