Residents see a Collector at their village for the first time in 20 years

Meenakshipuram, a remote village near here that has been wallowing in darkness, was declared a Solar Village on Wednesday.

Thanks to the efforts of the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD), Centre for Rural Education and Development (CRED) and Bank of India, the village is being illuminated with solar power.

“We prepared an initial list of 72 houses that are to be equipped with solar power. Thirty houses have been fitted with solar panels over the last two weeks,” said S Alagesan, secretary, CRED. Madurai Collector L Subramanian visited Meenakshipuram on Wednesday and handed documents to representatives of eight families confirming the installation of solar power units in their houses.

The Collector switched on a newly-installed solar power unit to declare Meenakshipuram a Solar Village.

“Every house has been provided with four 9 watt bulbs powered by a solar panel. The cost of each unit comprising a solar panel and four lights is Rs.15,000, and NABARD gives the beneficiaries a subsidy of Rs.4,000,” said R. Ramkumar representing the company manufacturing solar power units for the village. Bank of India is extending a loan of Rs.7,000 to the people to procure the units.

The village had been relying on kerosene lamps all these years, and the lone source of electricity was a diesel generator which powered a few small inverters.

Welcome addition

“We have lived all our lives without electricity and the lights are a welcome addition. The lights are charged through the panel on the roof throughout the day, and we turn them on once it gets dark,” A. Pandiamma, a resident of Meenakshipuram, said.

“We also have seven solar-powered street lights on the roads,” she points out.

The residents interacted with district officials outside the village school.

The visit of the Collector, who was accompanied by officials of health, animal husbandry, horticulture, education and highways departments, was the first by a Collector in the last 20 years, the villagers said.

Ration goods

Mr.Subramanian announced subsidies for setting up poultry farms and said subsidised ration goods would be brought to the village twice a month as the village did not have a fair price shop.

“Apart from the health nurse on duty here, a mobile health unit will come to the village twice a month to conduct regular health checks,” Mr.Subramanian said.

Though Meenakshipuram is situated near Vadipatti, the officials and journalists had to reach the hamlet from Sirumalai in Dindigul district as there was no approach road from Vadipatti.

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