When solar cookers first came to Bysanivaripalle village in Chitoor district, curious villagers looked at the glazing panels and laughed, “We cook food. Will this monster do that for us?” A year later, the villagers wished the monster had come earlier — it would have saved their women the trouble of trudging miles into forests in search of firewood.
Now, the village runs entirely on clean fuel — solar energy and biogas.
Of the 36 families here, 25 have access to biogas and 11 others use solar energy.
The village, not far away from the pilgrim town of Tirupati, had never got on to the development bus. Till a year ago, the village had no electricity and no assured supply of drinking water.
That was when the Non-conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP) stepped in and set up a biogas unit. The NEDCAP followed it up by setting up solar cookers.
NEDCAP officials said that earlier, the village used up 72 tonnes of firewood a year. Now that the villagers are no longer dependant on firewood, all those trees are safe.
The solar cookers are useful for about 250 days a year. For the rest of the days, villagers without biogas use kerosene or cow dung to cook.
Initially, the villagers thought the investment of Rs 3,750 was too much for the solar cookers. But ask them now. “A solar cooker saves Rs 20 per day,” said Sadanada Reddy, a village elder.