Central project was in limbo for two years

A Union government project to make Thiruvananthapuram a ‘Solar City’ is showing signs of revival. The project lay dormant for two years, until the last Corporation Council meeting.

The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had decided to make Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi ‘Solar Cities’ under the 11th Five Year Plan.

The council meeting adopted a resolution to formulate a Solar City Cell and a Stakeholder Committee, essential prerequisites for the project as underlined in the Ministry guidelines.

The Solar or Green City programme lays emphasis on decentralisation and garnering the support of local self-governments for planning and identifying what systems can be most effectively implemented to reduce electricity consumption. “In the long-term, this is to be an extensive project and the design of the master plan will be taken up initially. ANERT is the State nodal agency and funds for the project will be acquired through it from the Union government,” Works standing committee chairperson V.S. Padmakumar said.

The Ministry guidelines stipulate that an amount of Rs.50 lakh will be provided for each town, including that for the preparation of the master plan.

As per information provided by the Corporation, the Stakeholder Committee will include Corporation officials, including the Health Officer and executive engineers, and representatives of ANERT, Pollution Control Board and Kerala State Electricity Board, among other organisations.

The responsibilities of the respective local civic body include amending building by-laws for making the use of solar water heating systems mandatory in certain categories of buildings, provide rebate in property tax, and organise “rigorous publicity.”

T. Valsaraj, Director of ANERT, said the prime focus of the newly formed committees was to create an information regime, entailing widespread publicity and awareness projects on energy conservation.

He said ANERT would associate with municipalities in every district for setting up solar-powered street lamps. “Tenders have been floated and a technical evaluation is currently under way,” Mr. Valsaraj said.