Residents of Thane’s Pawar Nagar claim that the sun never sets in the area. When the sun goes down, street lights powered by solar energy are switched on in Harasiddh Apartments, an eight-building housing complex.
Located near a hillock close to the boundary of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the colony did not have street lights for years. Tired of waiting for the municipal corporation to install them, the residents reached out to the local corporator in February, who helped them install four solar panels and five street lights. The residents were funded by the Thane Christian Welfare Association (TCWA), a non-government organisation (NGO) of which the corporator is a member.
Jerry David, president of TWCA, said, “Since years, there were no provisions (for lights) for the residents and the area was dangerous. They urged us to help, so we processed the work on fast track basis.”
The solar panels generate approximately 300 watts of electricity to power the five street lights. The residents estimate that they save around Rs17 every hour, and will save approximately Rs 80,000 a year.
“The total cost took about Rs 80,000. The move will now help the society save 1.5 units each day,” said Vikal Chaurasia, who runs a company called Urja Setu. “Such initiatives would help make appropriate use of the natural resources available to us and will also save a lot of electricity,” Chaurasia added.
Before the solar lights installation, residents say they were scared to use the unlighted lanes after sunset. “Though the area is tranquil, the lanes were dangerous at night. There have been cases of thefts as well,” said Sameer Deshmukh, secretary of the society.
The solar-powered system offers uninterrupted electricity for around 12 hours, which is enough to cover the period between sunset and sunrise. “There are working women and men who come late in the night. So it was definitely not safe for them,” said Rajendra Raut, resident of the building. “It is much better now with the by-lane lit up. The best part is that it also saves on our maintenance bills, since it reduces electricity consumption.”
Before the installation, there were differences among the residents about the funding for the project for the project, since the road is used by residents of other buildings too. The dispute was resolved when they decided to go to the corporator for funding. The housing society is now thinking of adding solar powered street lights in the building compounds too.