Proposal seeks to harness solar energy to illuminate it on all days under the Centre's ‘solar city' project

The scarcity of conventional energy sources may not come in the way of lighting up the majestic Mysore palace on all days of the week: a proposal has been mooted to harness solar energy to illuminate the city's landmark.

With three million tourists visiting the city last year, the palace, which will complete 100 years in 2012, continues to attract a record number of visitors. Illumination is now restricted to weekends and public holidays; will it get more tourists if it is lit up all through the week?

Solar cities

Non-conventional energy experts have been asked to examine whether solar energy can illuminate the palace on all days.

This has been proposed under the ‘solar city' programme of the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

Sixty cities, including Mysore and Hubli-Dharwad, have been identified to be made ‘solar cities'. Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. (KREDL) is providing technical support for the project that aims to promote renewable energy resources, while the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) is the implementing agency.

Speaking toThe Hindu, MCC Commissioner K.S. Raykar said, “The Union Government has promised funds if we propose solar energy projects under the solar city initiative. Therefore, we have asked our consultant to prepare a detailed project report on harnessing solar energy for illuminating the palace.”

Experts had suggested that the illumination could be done at a cost of Rs. 40 crore. The Centre would fund nearly 35 per cent of it, Mr. Raykar said. “If we get a commitment from either the Department of Tourism or the Department of Kannada and Culture to give the remaining funds, we shall pursue the project with the MNRE,” he said.

Rs. 90 lakh a year

According to sources, the Mysore Palace Board spends about Rs. 90 lakh every year towards palace illumination. It pays an estimated Rs. 80,000 to the electricity supply company for illuminating the palace for an hour.

Although 40 W bulbs were used in the past, the authorities made a switch to 15 W bulbs — a lakh of them — to overcome circuit burnout.

The board came under pressure when the environmental organisation Greenpeace launched a ‘Ban the Bulb' campaign in many countries, including India. It was said that Mysore palace consumed close to 1.2 lakh kWh of electricity a year.

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